Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rest in peace . . . dahlin!

If you're from my neck of the woods, I can say one word, and you'll know exactly who I'm talking about.


Of course, I'm talking about Price LeBlanc, the king of cars in greater Baton Rouge. I remember when he'd hawk Ramblers, then American Motors, then Chryslers and Plymouths, then Toyotas from a spare studio with a simple curtain backdrop and a couple of his products parked behind him.

And he'd give you free country sausage if you came in to the dealerships in St. Gabriel and Gonzales.

I ALSO remember, back in the 1980s, a night of seafood and drinking at the old Cotton Club just north of LSU, but only because Price paid a visit to the bar and proceeded to visit with everyone in the place, leaving them with his trademark "Dahlin!"

Price LeBlanc was the king of cars in Baton Rouge, all right. And now the king is dead.

Long live the king.

The Advocate carried the sad tidings to his subjects Saturday morning:
Price LeBlanc Sr., longtime Baton Rouge businessman and owner of several car dealerships, died shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, his family confirmed.

He was 88.

LeBlanc died peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by his family, said his son, Price LeBlanc Jr.

The elder LeBlanc was well-known as the namesake for his car dealerships, which became synonymous with its trademark catchphrase “dahlin” ending each of its commercials.

The elder LeBlanc added the familiar slogan in honor of his mother, who often used the endearment, his son said.

Price LeBlanc Sr. was a life-long resident of St. Gabriel, where he started with a cattle business career after graduating from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Miss., his son said.

He made the switch from livestock to cars in 1954, and opened his first dealership in 1969, the younger LeBlanc said.

“He had a way of relating to people, a common touch, that he could bond with anyone from any walk of life,” he said. “That’s what he’s leaving behind with us.”

NO, THERE will never be another Price LeBlanc. I'll bet you a Toyota and a damn case of country sausage on that one.


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