There’s a hole in the heart of Demon Nation. The recent death of former Northwestern State University President Dr. Randall J. Webb came as a shock to many, myself included. My mind was churning at the news, thinking back to my days at Northwestern and how they have played a role in where I am today.

Dr. Webb’s impact spans far beyond the classrooms of Kyser Hall. His love for NSU could easily fill every seat in Turpin Stadium, Prather Coliseum and then some.

BPT Managing Editor Amanda Simmons (center) with former NSU President Dr. Randy Webb (right) and current NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson (left).
BPT Managing Editor Amanda Simmons (center) with former NSU President Dr. Randy Webb (right) and current NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson (left).

His death was felt beyond the city limits of historic Natchitoches, the place I called home for years. I’ve crossed paths with Dr. Webb several times. My involvement in student media took me all over campus for yearbook and newspaper assignments. I’ve heard him speak at events, seen him casually around campus and even had the opportunity to speak with him directly.

Fast forward to my days with the Bossier Press-Tribune and our paths, once again, crossed. One thing that stood out about Dr. Webb is how personable he was and how genuine he was with his words. Thinking back to the last time I saw him, we talked about my career and how I was becoming editor of this publication. He told me that he was proud and I could tell he sincerely meant it. Tributes and stories have been posted all over social media since his death last week. Other words I’ve read to describe him are certainly fitting…dedicated, caring, role model, mentor and a true leader.

Dr. Webb was the longest-serving president in Northwestern’s history, holding the position for more than 18 years. Under his leadership, Northwestern State received unprecedented national and international attention for its academic programs and student accomplishments. University facilities were renovated to better serve students and two record-setting capital campaigns took place.

Northwestern State also had the largest graduating classes in the university’s history during Webb’s tenure. Those who were fortunate to know him will now cherish his words and actions that forever changed Demon nation. Demons of the future will know who he is from the people and memories left to carry on his legacy. In his own words, “The best message anyone could carry in their hearts, is to go about everyday trying to do good.” Dr. Webb is and always will be the true heart and spirit of Northwestern State University.

Amanda Simmons is Managing Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. She can be reached at amanda@bossierpress.com