Like Father, Like Son: Marvin Thames Jr. remembers Director Marvin Thames Sr.

By: Dee Shedrick
Marvin Thames Jr. had humble beginnings, struggling to receive his associate degree from Delgado Community College. However, he still managed to follow in his father's footsteps and worked in higher education for 35 years at Delgado. "I was more of a jock. I had hopes of playing at LSU, but I injured myself and couldn't play anymore. If it wasn't for my father, I wouldn't have gotten this far," said Thames. His father always told him that he could do it if he applied himself. Thames admits that he wasn't strong academically, but his father encouraged him, like he encouraged most people.
Why do you think your father was chosen to be chancellor at Delgado?
Chep Morrison (mayor of New Orleans 1946-1961) asked him to head up Delgado's trade school, but I just think it was because he had personality and he was very politically savvy. He was very active in politics in the state of Louisiana. He knew a lot of politicians and legislators that could help him get city and state finances to fund the school. My dad was a diplomat. He was aggressive and he was a good Christian man. He was never mean or angry. He was just a great guy. And I know I'm being biased by saying that, but anyone who came in contact with my dad would say that.
Your father served as director of Delgado for 26 years. What was it like to be raised by an educator?
My father encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and be whatever I wanted to be. He helped me. He tried all kind of different avenues to get me through school. He was very supportive.

Director Thames was the only director to live in the president's house. Did you live in the house? If so, what was it like to live on campus?
It was fun. I had the run of the whole campus on the weekends. I would ride my bike and play football on the lawn and I got to meet all kinds of people. We moved there when I was in fourth or fifth grade. Back then the grounds only had our house, a maintenance facility and Building 1. My friends were always welcome to come over. The house was very warm and inviting.
President's home that was torn down where Director Marvin Thames Sr. and his family lived on the City Park Campus.
Can you think of a funny or interesting story?
Yes. We always had visitors and my father forgot to tell my mother that he would be bringing six or seven international visitors from Uganda to the house for a reception. Even though we always had people over, my mother wasn't even dressed for the occasion.
Did your father's career choices influence yours?
Definitely, my father always wanted to be in the classroom. So every year he would teach a sociology class to keep a pulse on the students and the changes in society. I started out teaching music apperception and human development classes and later I became a counselor. I also received a Ph.D. like my father in sociology. 
Dedication ceremony in honor of Director Marvin Thames Sr. on the site of the old president's house
When you hear the word Delgado, what one word comes to mind?
What does Delgado mean to you?
Delgado has always been an integral part of my life as well as my dad's life and I would always promote and be loyal to the institution until my dying day.
Do you think Delgado has a positive effect on the New Orleans community?
Absolutely, if it wasn't for Delgado hundreds of thousands of people in the community wouldn't have the chance to advance their education or get into a certain field of work.
Anything else you want to share?
I certainly enjoyed my tenure [at Delgado] and I hope that I was helpful to certain students and that I encouraged them like my dad encouraged me. But, I want people to know that without my dad's efforts and without his dedication, I don't think Delgado would be where it is now. He was the instrument to develop Delgado into a community college. That doesn't take away anything from all of the chancellors that have come after him, because they did marvelous work. But, I think that he was the cornerstone for developing the community college system for Louisiana. Today, we have community colleges all over the state; in the beginning, Delgado was the only community college.

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