Farewell to WRC Director Alfred E. Lemmon |  View in browser


I’m writing today to share some sad news. Williams Research Center Director Alfred E. Lemmon, a champion of The Historic New Orleans Collection’s mission since 1981, died Saturday night of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His THNOC legacy is immeasurable and lives on in the WRC holdings he so passionately oversaw.

Passion for our work was chief among Alfred’s professional attributes. All of us here witnessed it firsthand as he curated and then shared the story of the recent exhibition Spanish New Orleans and the Caribbean / La Nueva Orleans y el Caribe españoles. The exhibition itself was years in the making and drew on Alfred’s decades of research on the topic of Spanish and Caribbean influence on New Orleans’s history and culture. Moreover, the exhibition exemplified Alfred’s dedication to being a team player in an institution that had grown exponentially over the course of his career. What originated as a project of individual passion and research became a grand collaboration, calling on the talent and brilliance of many colleagues at The Collection and among the remarkable network of historians and archivists around the world that he had built over the years. Delayed due to the pandemic, the exhibition and its accompanying catalog were a spectacular exploration of Spain’s colonial period of dominion in our city and that period’s lasting influence here. Though slowed by the effects of his illness, Alfred worked tirelessly to amplify the exhibition’s story to supporters, visitors, and members of the media (conducting interviews in English and Spanish).

Throughout his illness, Alfred continued to dedicate himself to his work. He would say it kept him going. For just one example, Alfred was involved in planning for THNOC’s upcoming co-presentation of a Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra concert until his final days. He was an inspiration to us all and remains so.

We will have an opportunity to remember Alfred at an upcoming memorial service, details of which I’ll share by email as soon as they’re known. THNOC will also share Alfred’s official obituary, which will further recount his many accomplishments, on our social media channels, and I invite you to record your memories and appreciation for him there.

A titan has passed. But also a friend, respected colleague, and an architect of The Historic New Orleans Collection’s worldwide reputation as a research institution.

Farewell, Alfred.

Daniel Hammer

President and CEO

The Historic New Orleans Collection