By Edwin Buggage
A Life Dedicated to Serving Others
On July 24 the city loss a great New Orleanian and selfless servant and humanitarian who dedicated his life to helping others. Paul Beaulieu, who was a trailblazer using his positions as a broadcaster and educator passed away at the age of 75.
For those who crossed paths with this native of New Orleans, hailing from the 7th Ward experienced a man who represented the best of what the City has to offer pouring from his cup into others and inspiring them to greatness. After graduating from Xavier University in 1965 he worked tirelessly as an English Teacher at his alma mater St. Augustine where he led the alumni association before founding the Cornerstone Club, where graduates over the years would maintain their ties to the purple and gold contributing resources to continue its mission teaching young men; and giving them the tools to become leaders in many fields of endeavor not just in New Orleans but across the nation.
Paul Beaulieu was also one of the pioneers in the field of journalism, breaking barriers and giving African-Americans a larger voice in media. Writing an opinion column for one of the daily newspapers, “The States-Item.” In addition, he started his own newspaper, “The Spectator News Journal” he also was the host a Public Affairs Program called “Dimensions.” Later in his career he would serve as the co-host of the popular TV Program “Between the Lines” with fellow St. Aug alum and community advocate Lloyd Dennis. Then he lent his voice to WBOK AM-1230 where he would have a top-rated show and later serve as the Station’s General Manager before retiring in 2015 with one of his last interviews being the present New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Survivors include his wife of over five decades Cynthia King Beaulieu; two daughters Samantha Beaulieu and Lyndsey Beaulieu. Two brothers Lovell and Marvin Beaulieu, both of New Orleans; and two sisters, Victoria Beaulieu Saulny and Karen Beaulieu Major, both of New Orleans.
His life is one that was filled with the spirit of giving. Data News Weekly had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Beaulieu’s daughters, Samantha, an actress, writer and director that’s worked in television and film and Lyndsey, who is a writer for television who currently resides in Los Angeles.
Fighting the Righteous Fight and Giving Voice to the Voiceless
Over five decades Beaulieu was on the frontlines fighting the righteous fight leading the way giving voice to those who did not have a voice. Inspiring a community with his courage, compassion and commitment to helping those aspire to reach higher. Because of a life lived as one who was blessed, so he became a blessing to others; the outpouring of love, admiration and respect was on full display as the community was informed of the passing of an icon.
“We are very proud of our dad. We knew he was great, but we did not know the extent that he was doing this for other people. We are hearing stories about what he did for other people. He was a person who did not talk about all he was doing because he did not do it for recognition that was just who he was, and he was very humble about it,” says daughter Samantha Beaulieu of his selfless spirit.
Adding to her sister’s comments Lyndsey says, “He gave a lot more to people than us, it is surprising and overwhelming of his influence and how he touched so many lives and not in a small way, and if he would have seen the turnout at his service and heard all the wonderful things people were saying about him it would have warmed his heart knowing that all his work was not in vain.”
A Gentleman for all Seasons
In his public life many knew Paul Beaulieu as an unfiltered abashedly frank voice for fairness, empowerment and equality. But his private self was 180-degree difference according to his daughters. “As blunt as he could be, and, in your face, he could be as equally sensitive. He watched the movie Casablanca a lot, he loved romance and old black and white movies. He was a romantic and he was very sensitive. Our dad had an great appreciation for art and literature. He was a published poet and he’d written a lot of romantic poetry. His handle on Twitter Casablanca Beau, A Gentleman for all Seasons. That’s how he described himself,” says Samantha with a laugh as she and Lyndsey reminisce about their father.
Art from the Heart: Carrying on the Tradition
Paul Beaulieu was a renaissance man who passed on his love of the arts to both of his daughters. Samantha, who is an actress, writer and director who’s worked in theatre, television and film and Lyndsey, who is presently a writer for television. Speaking of his impact on their chosen career paths Lyndsey says, “He was so literary and that’s the reason I write. From very little I used to write poetry going back to the 6th grade. I remember he had an anthology of poetry. I discovered poetry through him. We talked about it all the time. My dad was a great influence on me in so many ways. Presently, I write for television but that was not originally the plan. I was going to go to Law School and that decision was heavily influenced by his life in politics, but once I got focused on writing for entertainment I decided this was a better fit for me, but that is still a part of him.”
Samantha adds speaking of her father’s impact, “In acting the big influence he had is when he was doing the show “Dimensions” it was at WVUE-FOX 8 and was a news, journalism and public affairs show. I vividly remember him interviewing Chaka Khan and Harry Connick Jr. when he was a 13-year-old boy playing the piano. I would sit and watch my dad with the all the lights and it was exciting to watch him engage with those people. It was very electrifying, and I was drawn to it. I think that’s where I get the love and desire to connect with people through acting.”
Each One Teach One
Beaulieu’s life was dedicated to uplifting his fellow humans, whether it was in the classroom or through his work in media. “I think his life represented each one teach one each one, lift one bring one. I was also told by him if I become a millionaire it was our duty to reach back and make another. He really believed that. He was always looking back bringing people up. Making phone calls, whether it is to get someone’s kid back in school at St. Aug, helping somebody get on the right track or helping them find a job that would change the course of their lives. He always saw a great responsibility for helping others,” says Samantha.
Representing the Best of New Orleans
New Orleans is a place filled with a spirit of can do in the face of insurmountable odds. Paul Beaulieu was the embodiment of this spirit throughout his life. “His life represented the best of New Orleans, he loved New Orleans and when I worked on Treme’, my dad always said New Orleans will come back because of the people’s perseverance of never giving up in all aspects,” says Lyndsey.
Continuing she says, “He left a legacy in everything he did whether it was the TV Show, the newspaper in education, in politics. He was an innovator and ahead of his time. I think to when he wrote a column for the States-Item as the first Black. One of the reports he shared with me was on the happenings at City Hall, but he wrote it from the perspective of the janitor. He was one who always thought of all people and felt their voices should be heard.”
Samantha then chimes in proudly saying, “My dad was larger than life. His heart was bigger than big this is what I think of when I think of my dad, Paul Beaulieu. Recently, I was talking to one of his good friends and he said you don’t just meet Paul you experience him. I couldn’t agree more. His caring spirit and the love he exuded for all people it was an experience like that with everyone he encountered from City Hall, to his journalism days.” Continuing she says her voice slightly trembling as if she was fighting back tears of joy then she laughs, “I remember not long before he drove me under the Claiborne Overpass near Esplanade a few months ago to show me a homeless man that could sing. He heard him at a light and found him and gave him 20 dollars and made him sing for me. The guy’s face lit up as he is having a conversation with my daddy. This was just someone he saw leaving from Lil Dizzy’s and saw the gift he had and wanted to encourage him and show me that greatness can be found every and anywhere. This is what my dad saw in everybody and that was his life’s mission and purpose. He was a real humanitarian who loved his people and his city, and his legacy will live on in us and all the people’s lives he touched.