Dr. E. Ralph Lupin, an obstetrician-gynecologist who was a longtime member and chairman of the Vieux Carre Commission and a fierce defender of the French Quarter’s historic character, died Thursday morning at Touro Infirmary.
He was 83.
Lupin, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, lived in the Quarter for many years.
He graduated from Alcee Fortier High School and Loyola University. He received his medical degree from LSU in 1956 and a law degree from Loyola Law School in 1988.
Lupin served in the Air Force from 1958 to 1960 and later spent many years in the Louisiana Army National Guard, attaining the rank of brigadier general.
He practiced medicine in his Gretna OB-GYN practice and was of counsel with the Gretna law firm of Gaudry, Ranson, Higgins & Gremillion.
“New Orleans has lost a true hero,” said City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the Quarter. “He was a stalwart and courageous leader in the French Quarter, a man of integrity and honor.”
Lupin could always be counted on to oppose — often in outspoken language — anything he thought would challenge the Quarter’s integrity, such as the introduction of large, wheeled garbage bins or the installation of solar panels on the roofs of Quarter buildings.
In 2008, speaking in opposition to a proposal to temporarily put a public-art installation in Jackson Square, he said he worried about “a proliferation of 21st-century modernist works that would screw up the square.”
In September, he complained about people who congregate near tarot-card readers at the square. “They are ill-dressed, ill-washed. They are cursing. They are drinking alcohol,” he said.
Lupin called the French Quarter “the most essential economic development effort that helps drive the financial success of this city and its citizens.”
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, whose office oversees the Louisiana State Museum system, which includes several of the Quarter’s most historic buildings, said Lupin was the system’s “heart and soul.”
Lupin was on the museum’s board of directors for more than three decades and served three terms as its chairman. He also was a longtime member of the Friends of the Cabildo.
“His love of New Orleans, the French Quarter and its heritage was unsurpassed,” Dardenne said.
Lupin’s family built St. Charles General Hospital in New Orleans, which they later sold to Tenet Healthcare Corp., using the proceeds from the sale to create the Lupin Foundation. The foundation helped fund the restoration of the Sala Capitular, the main hall of the Cabildo, after it was damaged in a devastating 1988 fire.
A wreath with black bunting was placed in front of the Cabildo on Thursday in Lupin’s honor.
Lupin was activated by the National Guard for Hurricane Katrina and worked in the Superdome, helping to provide medical treatment for those who had evacuated there.
Since his own home was unlivable after the storm, he lived at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero for a few months and was stationed at Naval Air Station Belle Chasse for his National Guard duty.
The Lupin Foundation also has contributed to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Audubon Park, Tulane University, Loyola Law School, Isidore Newman School and other nonprofit causes.
Lupin was on the boards of numerous charitable and civic organizations, including NOCCA, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Jewish Federation, the March of Dimes and the University of New Orleans Foundation. He received many awards for his public service.
Survivors include his wife, Pamela Halter Lupin; a son, Dr. Jay Stephen Lupin, of Scarsdale, N.Y.; a stepdaughter, Shaney Woods; two brothers, Dr. Arnold M. Lupin, of Metairie, and Dr. Samuel Lupin, of Monsey, N.Y.; two sisters, Fagey L. Fischman and Reva E. Lupin, of New Orleans; two grandchildren; and a step-grandchild.
A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Congregation Shir Chadash, 3737 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Anshe Sfard Cemetery in New Orleans. Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Home of Metairie is in charge of arrangements.