State Sen. Don Hines (left) is sworn in as Senate president in 2004 with wife, Jackie, holding the Bible and former state senator and 3rd Circuit Court Judge John Saunders administering the oath. Hines was elected to the Senate in 1993 when Saunders resigned after being elected to the judgeship. He retired in 2008, being barred from seeking re-election due to term limits. The Bunkie physician will be the grand marshal of this year's Louisiana Corn Festival Parade on Saturday.

Hines adds ‘grand marshal’ to list of titles

Physician, politician, philanthropist to lead Corn Fest parade

Don Hines has spent most of his life with various titles in front of his name -- doctor, senator, school board member. Now he can add one more -- grand marshal.

Hines will be the grand marshal of the 32nd Annual Louisiana Corn Festival Parade when it sets off at 10 a.m. Saturday (June 9).

Hines has been a doctor in Bunkie since 1966. He is a 1952 graduate of Bunkie High.

He and wife Jackie Ewing Hines have been married for 60 years and have six children: Richard, Scott, Donna, Henry, Chris and Ginger.

“I was surprised and honored when Corn Festival Chairman Lele Soileau call me and asked me to be the Grand Marshal,” Hines said. “I have always tried to help the festival when I can.”

He entered politics in 1972 when he was elected to the Avoyelles Parish School Board.

On Jan. 16, 1993, he won a special election to become state senator. He served as state senator until 2008, when he had to retire due to the state’s term limits law.

In his last term, he served as Senate president under Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

As a senator, Hines helped secure funding to convert Haas Auditorium into a hurricane evacuation center and civic center. That project also provided for construction of the pavilion on the auditorium grounds.

The Corn Festival has benefited from that project, using the pavilion for its events and contests and the auditorium for its annual pageant.

“We were able to air condition Haas Auditorium and renovate the restrooms,” Hines noted. “The pavilion and the walking track were also big additions to the site. “

Hines said the walking track was designed “to help people walk around the festival grounds without it becoming muddy.”

Hines completed his undergraduate studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and obtained his M.D. from the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

NAVAL SERVICE

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1963. He received a commendation from Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally in 1961 for his action in treating two Naval aviation students injured in a crash at Spanish Lake in New Iberia. The accident claimed the life of the flight instructor, but the two students survived.

After leaving the Navy, he worked as a physician for three years in New Iberia before returning to Bunkie where he opened his medical practice in 1966.

He is a member of the Louisiana and the Avoyelles Parish medical societies.

In 2006, Hines was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.

In its announcement of his induction, the Hall of Fame called him a “country doctor ... who became one of the Senate’s most articulate spokesmen for the needs of the working class and poor people.”

Hines chaired the task force that created the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program. He authored the Rural Hospital Preservation Act and the SenioRX Program, to aid the elderly with prescription costs.

He also helped to establish the Gene Therapy Research Initiative.

HELPING CASA ALELUYA

Since retiring from public life, Hines has focused his attention on the Casa Aleluya orphanage in Guatemala.

The orphanage is run by Bunkie native Mike Clark and his wife, Dottie. They opened the orphanage in the late 1980’s and have helped more than 4,000 children.

Casa Aleluya currently has 350 children there.

Hines first went to Guatemala in 2013 to participate in an international telemedicine program at Casa Aleluya. That program was established through a partnership of LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans and Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT).

Hines came up with the idea of providing the orphanage with telemedicine equipment so the children could get quicker and better medical care.

His interests led him to GPT, who donated the necessary equipment to provide telemedicine at Casa Aleluya.

Since then, Hines has been able to provide several pieces of medical equipment to help the orphanage provide the children with better health care.

“Don has two hearts,” Clark, an ordained Baptist minister, once said. “He has one heart of generosity and another heart of compassion.”

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