If you had told Ed Steimel that no private citizen in the state had more influence on modern Louisiana than he, the eyes would have lit up and he would have been jokingly stern: “Don’t blame it on me!”
That sense of humor was treasured by the thousands in business and in state government who knew Ed, as he was almost universally known. His death at 94 is an end of an era.
As president of the Public Affairs Research Council for 25 years, he created an intellectual powerhouse for the postwar reforms that Louisiana needed. Then, he overhauled the business community’s lobbying efforts at the State Capitol as head of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, breaking a generation-long rule of labor.
The titanic battles between Steimel and the late Victor Bussie, longtime head of the AFL-CIO, were remarkable scenes to witness, in large part because of the intelligence and shrewdness of the two leaders.
In retirement, Steimel was a tireless fundraiser for LSU’s engineering school, aiding future generations of students. We should all seek to emulate that example of looking toward the future.