Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
Elliot “Doc” Willard, the former educator and Orleans Parish School Board member who was patriarch of a political family that includes a judge and former City Council member, has died.
A family spokesman said Willard died of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed only two weeks ago, the family said.
Two of Willard’s 12 children are familiar political figures. His daughter, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, served two terms on the New Orleans City Council after a stint in the state legislature. His son is Orleans Criminal Court Judge Ben Willard.
A former coach and teacher at Joseph S. Clark High School and principal at Booker T. Washington and St. Augustine high schools, “Doc” Willard, as he was known, first tried to land a seat on the Orleans Parish School Board in 1972.
He ran three times unsuccessfully before finally being elected in 1998. In 2004, he was defeated in his bid for re-election and was replaced by Torin Sanders.
He was a New Orleans native and graduate of Xavier Prep High School and Xavier University.
Known for his booming voice and lengthy speeches that bordered on sermons, Willard, in addition to his school board tenure, was a familiar figure on the local political scene for many years.
Funeral arrangements are pending.