Billy and Cher NungesserWilliam Harold “Billy” Nungesser was born January 10, 1959, to William Aicklen "Billy" Nungesser and Ruth Marks Nungesser. His father was a respected, distinguished Republican leader who served as Chief of Staff to Governor Dave Treen and chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. His mother was a charter member of the Republican Women of Louisiana.

As a young man, Nungesser conceived the idea of converting metal shipping containers into portable living quarters for offshore workers. In 1991, he turned a $7,500 loan from his mother into General Marine Leasing Company, a business that grew to employ more than 200 workers and reached $20 million in sales as the largest provider of portable buildings in the Gulf of Mexico. Nungesser was also a founding member of the Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry, and in 2002, Louisiana Life Magazine named him one of the state’s “Top CEOs”.

In 2005, Nungesser and his wife Cher rode out Hurricane Katrina at their cattle and elk ranch in southern Plaquemines Parish. After the storm, he spent days rescuing stranded people and weeks rounding up displaced animals. He was infuriated by the slow response of Louisiana’s elected officials, and that anger led him to run for office. He was elected Plaquemines Parish President in 2006, and immediately started challenging and working with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He focused on developing a master plan to restore Louisiana’s ravaged coastline and wetlands as a way to protect communities from storm surges. Nungesser brought together federal, state and private resources to increase funding. He received the Disaster Recovery Contractors Association’s Golden Horizon Award.

He also used his business sense and discipline to control spending and hold the line on taxes. That resulted in annual savings to taxpayers and millions of dollars of surpluses each year in Plaquemines Parish. His efforts earned him re-election in 2010 with over 70% of the vote.  

On April 20, 2010, Plaquemines Parish became Ground Zero for the nation’s most devastating environmental disaster. In the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Billy Nungesser became the voice of Louisiana’s frustration. He took on national agencies, BP officials and even the President of the United States, becoming a regular on the national nightly news. He forced the government to take quicker action to protect wildlife and property. He cut red tape and chastised national leaders. He never measured his words for political correctness, believing the only correct thing to do was fight for the rights of those harmed. The New York Times labeled him “the hardest working man in Louisiana.” Another national news organization described Nungesser as “a true son of Louisiana having grown up in the state’s holy trinity of seafood, oil and politics”.

On November 21, 2015, Nungesser was elected Louisiana’s Lt. Governor. In that role he is not only second in command in the executive branch, but also the state’s ambassador as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

Nungesser also owns and operates the Pointe Celeste Therapeutic Riding Center, a covered, durable riding facility for physically disabled children and adults to experience the world from the vantage point of a free horseback ride. As a young man, Nungesser witnessed the power of horseback riding as both physical and mental therapy for the disabled.  

Nungesser’s firm belief in public service has found him devoting time to a wide range of important causes:

  • 2011 Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority Planning Committee Member
  • 2011 Association of Levee Boards Coastal Committee Member
  • 2008 Presidential Elector, 3rd Congressional District
  • 1986 Member Republican Presidential Task Force Senate Majority Team
  • Member, Governor’s Advisory Committee for International Special Olympics
  • Member, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
  • Member, National Rifle Association
  • United Way for Greater New Orleans Area Appreciation
  • Project Rebuild Plaquemines 2005-2010 Honor for support in building playgrounds through Plaquemines Parks project

His public service has also earned him numerous awards including the Pioneer Spirit Award from the Humane Society of Louisiana and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the United Way.

  • 2011 Crimefighters “Special Award of Merit”
  • 2011 Louisiana Wildlife Federation Conservation Award
  • 2010 Humane Society of Louisiana “Pioneer Spirit Award”
  • 2010 LA and National Wildlife Federation “Conservationist of the Year”
  • 2009 Disaster Recovery Contractors Association “Golden Horizon Award”
  • 2008 United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area “Outstanding Achievement Award”
  • 2009 Crimefighters “Award of Merit”
  • 2008 Southeast Louisiana Clean Fuel Partnership “Leadership Recognition”
  • 2008 Southeast Louisiana Clean Fuel Partnership “Leadership Recognition”
  • 2002 Louisiana Life Magazine list of “Top CEO’s”
  • 1985 Crimestoppers “Citizen of the Year”
©2017 Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism