For eight days, R. Hunter Pierson Jr. has watched as his Uptown neighbor, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, has reigned over New Orleans, drawing reverent attention from everyone from news crews to neighbors who have left Hubig’s pies and Abita beer on his doorstep.
But on Tuesday, it’ll be Pierson’s turn to rule.
He will be Rex, king of Carnival, and will take the throne for a 24-hour reign whose high point will be a ride through a city that is still giddy about the Saints’ 31-17 triumph in Super Bowl XLIV.
A native of Alexandria who was a frequent Mardi Gras visitor while he was growing up, Pierson and his wife, Cathy, moved to New Orleans in 1973, shortly after their marriage.
While Carnival was fascinating annual diversion, the couple didn’t expect to be in New Orleans very long.
“I had a job at the First National Bank of Commerce,” he said, “and I always thought I’d learn a trade and go back to Alexandria.”
But they realized that wasn’t going to happen when they were on a drive through rural Louisiana with their young son, R. Hunter Pierson III, en route to a family visit in Alexandria.
“As we drove down the road, there was a tractor on the side of the road,” Cathy Pierson said, “It was right after Mardi Gras. Our son looked at me and said, ‘Where’s the float?’”
“That was when I realized we were New Orleanians,” Hunter Pierson said.
They became New Orleanians with a vengeance, working on an array of committees and evolving into what Rex spokesman Christian “Christy” Brown called “a formidable team in accomplishing anything.”
Hunter Pierson, an LSU graduate who manages private investments in real estate, timberland and securities, is a new appointee to the Tulane University board. He also is a member of the boards of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana Museum Foundation. He is a regional board member of Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates and professionals to teach for two years in low-income communities around the country.
The Piersons also served as co-chairs of Promise and Distinction: The Campaign for Tulane, a fundraising drive that brought in $730 million — $130 million above its original goal.
Congrats to Mr. Pierson.