Chamber honors local philanthropist
The Crowley Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Lazar J. ‘L.J.’ Gielen has been selected as the Humanitarian of the Year for 2017.
Lazar John “L.J.” Gielen was born in 1945 to Julia John Gielen and John Daniel Gielen Jr.
He graduated from St. Michael High School in 1963 and continued his education at LSU in Baton Rouge to earn a degree in 1967. Married to Carol “Chee Chee” Breaux for 50 years, they have four children, 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
During his 72 years, Gielen ran several successful businesses which include Shop Rite and Tobacco Plus (along with his brother, brother-in-law and two cousins) as well as Rice Palace and L.K. Breaux and Associates.
He has served on many committees and boards of trade and civic organizations. He served his church, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, by being on the Parish Council for 24 years, seven of which serving as a trustee, and also on the St. Michael school board for 7 years. He was also a board member of Community Foundation of Acadiana for nine years.
One of Gielen’s proudest moments, was the restoration of The Grand Opera House of the South, an eight year project.
After the renovations, the Gielen family turned the Opera House ownership over to a non-profit community corporation; however, the family continues to be a significant contributor and operates the downstairs Grand Hall that serves as a hub of many community social activities.
Gielen is especially proud of his construction company, along with business partner Keith Breaux, are responsible for the renovation and restoration of the interior of St. Michael the Archangel Church as well as the first floor renovation of the First United Methodist Church, which is one of the oldest churches in Crowley.
Always generous, L.J. Gielen, Chee Chee Gielen and their children know the value of sharing with the community that blessed them in so many ways. They support parochial and public education as well as the arts and youth organizations.
All are invited to join Chamber Members at the Annual Banquet Wednesday, May 10, at the Grand Opera House of the South where the Chamber will recognize the Board of Directors and community leaders like Gielen as Humanitarian of the Year, Audie Hanks as Business Person of the Year, and Chloe Dietz, Mackenzie Habetz, and Jackson Hetzler will as the 2017 Outstanding Young Citizens. Dinner will begin with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at 6 p.m. with dinner service at 7:00 p.m. During the cocktail hour, the crowd will have the opportunity to bid on items in a silent auction. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Chamber office, at 788-0177. Individual tickets are $45; a table for eight may be reserved for $350.