Loyd J. Rockhold, born in Jonesboro on Aug. 29, 1922, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, Nov. 26, 2010, after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer. He was a devoted husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, good friend and humanitarian.
He moved to Baton Rouge as a teenager and graduated from Baton Rouge High School in 1939. His studies in civil engineering at LSU were interrupted by World War II. He proudly served in the Marine Corps as a master tech sergeant. As one of Carlson’s Raiders, he was stationed in Guam. After the war, he returned to LSU where he earned his degree in 1947. Throughout his life, he remained active in the Marine Corps League and served as League Commandant. He cherished his Marine Corps friends and their camaraderie.
He was a member of First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge. He was a former Sunday school teacher and, at the time he became ill, was very active working with the homeless. Loyd never missed a Thursday working at the church’s clothes closet. Though Loyd did not have sons, he was extremely active in the Boys Scouts of America and served as a scout leader for many years. He inspired two of his grandsons to become Eagle Scouts. Loyd was a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, served on the board of the Arthritis Association of Louisiana and, through Special Children’s Foundation (SCF), provided the initial funding for Camp J.A.M. (Juvenile Arthritis and Me). Under his direction, SCF supported the Boys Scouts of America, Special Olympics, USO, Cancer Services of Baton Rouge, Braveheart Children in Need, The Food Bank, Public Broadcasting System, the March of Dimes and others.
His vocation was civil engineering; his lifelong avocation was working to improve the lives of children. His vision led him to establish Special Children’s Foundation in 1975, and he went on to become a well known advocate for people with developmental disabilities. Through his efforts, the Loyd J. Rockhold Center for Child Development was established. His life’s work expanded to include all children, not just those with disabilities. More recently, Special Children’s Foundation, under his direction, partnered with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. There he established two chairs and an endowed professorship as well as being instrumental in providing initial funding for construction of a building to house the Center for Child Development. Before his death, Loyd was able to see the construction in progress for this building and the renaming of the Center in honor of his close friend, former State Superintendent of Education Cecil J. Picard. He was most proud knowing that his work would continue uninterrupted. As a final gift, he donated his body to the LSU Medical School.
Loyd is survived by his beloved wife, Terry Rockhold; seven daughters, Sharon Holder, Jan Serignea and husband Ralph, Gloria Rockhold, Cindy Martrain and husband Dale, Marie Greco and husband Andy, Sandy Guidry and husband Scot, and Mary Frances Rockhold; sister, Gladys Chaney Fowler; and former wife, Manuela Pea Rockhold. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and innumerable friends.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Paula Chavers Rockhold; mother, Essie; father, George; brothers, Edward, Raymond, James Alton, Floyd (his twin), and Fred; and sister, Evelyn Roubique.
Loyd will be remembered as one who loved and appreciated the Lord, life, family, and friends. He was a man who walked on top of the Wall of China, visited Iguazu Falls, camped out in the Rockies in the snow and won a jitter-bug contest at age 80. He always said he would rather wear out than rust out and believed in living life to the fullest while enjoying every day. He will be missed by many whose lives he enriched, who called him Loyd, Rock, Grandaddy, Rocky Baby, Poppie, Papa Rock and Mr. Rock.
There will be a memorial service held at First Baptist Church, 529 Convention St., Baton Rouge, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, we know that Rock would want everyone to go out to dinner and celebrate his life. Those who wish to may make a donation in his name to First Baptist Church, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, or a charity of their choice. Semper Fi.