Dr. Joe Hargroder, one of the bank’s founding members who played a pivotal role in its creation in 1985, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 83.

Dr. Joe HargroderHargroder is a retired family physician from Jennings.

In addition to having never missed a board meeting, Hargroder also played a pivotal role in the bank’s founding, having raised 25 percent of the capital to start MidSouth Bank in 1985, according to a press release issued Friday. Thirty years ago, while trying to get the bank off the ground, Hargroder went to his friends, colleagues and patients in Jeff Davis Parish with an opportunity to invest in a start-up bank based in Lafayette; they trusted him, and invested their hard-earned money into MidSouth.

“Many of these initial backers have become very wealthy off of this single investment opportunity,” said Hargroder while being profiled for MidSouth Bank’s 2005 Annual Report.

“I just don’t even know where to begin in trying to put into words the kind of loss each of us at the bank is feeling,” says MidSouth President and CEO Rusty Cloutier in announcing Hargroder’s death. “Dr. Joe has been our rock for so long. We could never repay him for the faith he put in us and for his guidance and determination to make this bank what it is today. Without Dr. Joe there would have been no MidSouth Bank.”

In addition to his role with MidSouth Bank, Hargroder also dedicated his life to the people of Jeff Davis Parish, and was even named a “Local Legend” by the Jennings Daily News in 2004.

In 2005, board members and management from MidSouth established the Dr. Joe Hargroder Scholarship — a $50,000 endowed scholarship fund set up through the McNeese Foundation for students from Jeff Davis Parish.

In lieu of flowers, Hargroder’s family has asked that any contributions be made to the scholarship fund. Donations can be submitted online at www.mcneesefoundation.org, or by mail to the McNeese Foundation, P.O. Box 91989, Lake Charles, LA, 70609.

“Dr. Joe was much more than a fellow director, says Cloutier. “He provided counseling and comfort to my wife and family on many occasions. For decades he took care of the sick in his community, but more than that he enhanced the spirit of life of everyone who ever knew him. And we will all miss him dearly.”

In July, a celebration of Hargroder’s life will be held in Jennings.

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