Clyde Holloway, chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and a former congressman, died at his home in Forest Hill Sunday night.

He was 72 and suffered from complications with pneumonia, said Karen Haymon, his longtime aide. Holloway is survived by his wife of 50 years, Cathie, his four children, nine grandchildren and six siblings.

Visitation will be held 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Elwood Baptist Church, 213 Elwood Road, Forest Hill. A funeral service will be held at the Forest Hill festival grounds in the center of town on Saturday at 11 a.m., followed by a private burial and public reception at Forest Hill Town Hall, 138 Blue Lake Road.

Holloway had been in ill health for several months, including a two-month stint in a Houston hospital over the summer, forcing him to miss meetings of the five-member board elected to regulate utilities, phone companies and intrastate trucking.

“A true public servant, Clyde spent his life advocating on behalf of the state and people he loved,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement. “From the time that he began his career in his beloved hometown of Forest Hill, to representing Louisiana’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and then ultimately serving as chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, he always remained accessible and a powerful voice for his constituents.”

His election to the PSC in 2009 made the Commission the first elected body in Louisiana with a Republican majority since Reconstruction. He chose not to run for reelection this fall, citing his failing health as the reason.

Mike Francis, of Lafayette, and Reldon Owens, of Alexandria, both Republicans, and Mary Werner, a Lake Charles Democrat, are vying to replace Holloway in the Nov. 8 election.

Holloway was at the vanguard of the state’s shift to conservative Republicanism when elected to the U.S. Congress in 1986.

“I became a Republican because of Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan inspired me to run for Congress,” Holloway was fond of saying.

“He was one of the forerunners of the Republican Party in Louisiana,” PSC Commissioner Eric Skrmetta said. “He was an exceptionally gifted man.”

Skrmetta, a Metairie Republican, noted determining how much a government board can oversee the business decisions of private companies, which the PSC does, often leads to intense debate. But Holloway kept the inevitable passion from turning into personal feuds and attacks.

“We were always honest in our disagreements. But we always understood where we could agree and worked from that point,” he said.

Commissioner Foster Campbell, of Bossier Parish, agreed. “Clyde and I certainly had our differences, but I respected his devotion to his job and his family.”

In the early 1980s, Holloway rose to prominence when he and others challenged a federal judge's order to close the public school in his hometown of Forest Hill. Holloway contended that a small community had a right to their own school. The efforts failed at the federal level.

The public school, which was eventually reopened as elementary school, named its mascot, a bulldog, Clyde.

A Lecompte native, Holloway owned and operated Holloway's Nursery, a business he started with his wife in the early 1970s.

He was elected in 1986 to represent Louisiana’s 8th Congressional District. In Congress, Holloway focused on agricultural issues and was considered very conservative, pushing for prayer in public schools and against free trade policies. He was in Washington until 1993, when the district was disbanded and its constituency merged with other districts because of the state’s loss of population. (Louisiana now has only six instead of eight congressmen.)

Holloway made five unsuccessful attempts to return to Congress as well as bids for governor and lieutenant governor.

Before being elected to the PSC, Holloway was the Louisiana State Director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President George W. Bush.

His PSC district includes much of central Louisiana and Acadiana, west of Lafayette Parish to the Texas border.

He pressed to allow utility companies to pay a premium for using clean renewable energy to make electricity.

“We spent hours in the office working on that,” Haymon recalled.

The idea was to support a burgeoning industry while providing cleaner processes. At the same time, Holloway pressed for an end of tax breaks for solar energy, arguing that it amounted to all customers subsidizing those rich enough to buy the panels for the homes.

“He remained accessible to those he served and did his best by them. His voice and spirit will be missed,” said Casey DeMoss, head of Alliance for Affordable Energy in New Orleans. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him. His service was inspiring.”

"Louisiana lost a good man today,” said Commissioner Scott Angelle.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the “Holloway Hometown Legacy Fund” at Red River Bank, P.O. Box 31, Forest Hill, to fund community benefit projects in and around the town.


Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.