Remembering Dr. Woody Gagliano
Rarely in the course of time do we meet and get to appreciate an outstanding person. This person actually has helped to change the face of the planet Earth. He was not a giant of a man but in his short stature could move a mountain if needed or rebuild the great Mississippi Delta. So, who was this man? We knew him by his nicknames Woody, Dr. G, and Chief. Formally Ph.D. LSU Professor and founder of Coastal Environments, Inc. When we speak of a person that was true to his heart this was our friend Woody.
Let’s take a journey through the adventure of his life, born to humble beginning in 1935 to James and Olivia Gagliano. Woody grew up in the Carrollton near the river area in New Orleans. For many young people adventuring along the bank of the Mississippi River was a past time. There he would meet a colorful individual, a preacher named MoMo who would baptize people in the mighty Mississippi. This may have been the cultural influence for Woody’s passion for the past and the might of the Mississippi River. His childhood friend Roger Saucier and he were inseparable in their adventures. Together they taught each other the basics of archaeology in the sands of the river bank. An opportunity presented itself with a bus ride paid for with money earned as a young boy working at the Hill’s Store at Carrollton and St. Charles Ave. to LSU. There a new world would open up from his education at Fortier High School in uptown New Orleans. Roger and Woody impressed a professor at LSU, who told the teenagers he would help them attend the institution of higher learning. Woody would complete his undergraduate degree in geology, his Master and PhD in physical geography for his education. A constant desire to learn was lifelong. He even served in the US Army. Marriage to the love of his life Betty Ann Huxen completed his beginning into his life’s journey and family with their son Mark. Betty was not only his wife but also his companion in global adventures and his support in his pursuits of learning.
This whole-time passion for the mighty Mississippi River burned so strongly in his mind. He taught for years at LSU only to begin his own company in 1967, Coastal Environments, Inc. At the time, there was little concern about our coast with the millions of dollars Oil and Gas was rolling into Louisiana. Gagliano kept a sharp eye on his observations of coastal land loss. More and more he pondered his newly gained knowledge. Being the observer he was, traveling the world to learn from other great river deltas was imperative. Questioning what was happening on the surface in the marshes did not answer the land loss for Woody.
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