Dr. E. Ralph Lupin, a longtime local physician known for his years of charitable and civic involvement including a long stint as the chairman of the Vieux Carre Commission, has died. He was 83.
District C City Council member Kristin Palmer, whose district includes the French Quarter, issued a statement commending Lupin for his service to the city agency.
“The City of New Orleans has lost a true hero. He was a stalwart and courageous leader in the French Quarter, a man of integrity and honor, and he will be deeply missed,” Palmer said.
A native of New Orleans, Dr. Lupin was devoted to the preservation of the French Quarter, and his role on the city commission charged with protecting it often put him in the headlines, sometimes for less than favorable decisions or confrontations with people appearing before the agency.
“In my opinion, the mission to preserve and protect the French Quarter is one of the most important efforts that I have had, and continue to participate in,” he told The Times-Picayune for a 2011 interview. “The French Quarter is the most essential economic development effort that helps drive the financial success of this city and its citizens,” Lupin said.
Lupin was appointed to the VCC as a representative of the Louisiana State Museum, which he also served for many years.
"Dr. Lupin was the heart and soul of the State Museum System," Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said in a statement. "His love of New Orleans, the French Quarter and its heritage was unsurpassed."
Lupin served on the museum board for more than 35 years, including three stints as the board's chairman. His family foundation was also generous in donating funds toward the restoration of the Cabildo after the devastating 1988 fire.
Eyewitness News political analyst and Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos remembered Lupin as a generous supporter of many civic and cultural causes in the city.
"Ralph was an amazing man - generous, fun-loving, dedicated to his profession and to his community," DuBos said. "He had a boundless passion for life and for giving."
In his professional career, Dr. Lupin delivered thousands of babies during more than 50 years as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist. He continued practicing well past retirement age because, as he told St. Charles Avenue Magazine for an interview, he considered women’s health care part of his life’s mission.
“Every time I see a new being come into this world, I feel that my mission in life is fulfilled,” he said. “My mission in life is to make people happy, and I would have to say that everything I’ve done is with this mission in mind. Women’s health care is my job, and I’ll keep doing it until I die.”
Lupin and his brothers, both also physicians, founded St. Charles General Hospital in Uptown New Orleans and when the building was sold to Tenet Healthcare in the 1980s, the proceeds helped form the Lupin Foundation, which has supported countless charities and causes over the years.
One institution he supported as a lifetime board member, the New Orleans Ballet Association, said the family name is "synonymous with the arts."
"Ralph understood and knew the power of the arts to make a difference for a child and he worked tirelessly for NOBA's education programs," said the association's board chair, Charlotte Bollinger. "With integrity, compassion, honor, and love, Ralph served to enrich the lives of others each and every day, and he will be forever missed in this community."
Among the many causes Dr. Lupin, his wife Pam, and their family’s Lupin Foundation were most committed to were: the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the New Orleans Ballet Association, New Orleans Opera Association, Louisiana Museum Foundation, and National World War II Museum and Rotary Club.
Other institutions to benefit from the foundation, both financially and in volunteer hours donated by Dr. Lupin and his late wife Freda, who died in 2004, included Newman School, Tulane and Loyola Universities, WYES-TV and Audubon Park.
Dr. Lupin was also a retired member of the Louisiana National Guard. He retired from military service at the age of 65, but he received his last mission in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.
As many were evacuating New Orleans, 75-year-old Lupin stayed in the city, and he was reactivated and assigned to the Superdome as the chief medical officer for a total of 60 days.
He was a graduate of LSU and Loyola University New Orleans.
In addition to his wife Pam, Dr. Lupin is survived by a son and two grandchildren, as well as a stepdaughter and stepgrandchild, two brothers, two sisters, and numerous nieces and nephews. Dr. Lupin was preceded in death by a son, Michael, who is remembered at Newman School, which is home to Michael Lupin Stadium.
Funeral services will take place Friday at Shir Chadash Synagogue, 3737 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. with services at 1 p.m. Memorials to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, World War II Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans Ballet Association or New Orleans Opera Association are preferred.
Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Home of Metairie is in charge of arrangements.