Rummel photographer Bill Arthurs receives richly deserved birthday honor
In the faith-based world, missionaries are the true heroes, surrendering their lives for the benefit of others. Many churches shine brightly in times of need, such as now in east Texas and in southwestern Louisiana.
In education, the real heroes are found at the lower levels like grammar schools where the formative years take place and, most notably, in high schools where adolescents begin maturing into young adults and defining who they will become in life.
One such hero resides at Archbishop Rummel High School.
Bill Arthurs has been at the school since its virtual inception, serving since 1965, right after he graduated from Tulane. Saturday night, Arthurs received well-deserved recognition as he was honored at halftime of Rummel’s football game against Gulfport High at Joe Yenni Stadium.
It was also Arthurs’ 75th birthday and his daughter Carrie worked hard to make sure that her father was honored.
Arthurs was there during my formative years as a wide-eyed student at Rummel. He taught our son, Travis, who graduated in 2011. Arthurs has served in multiple capacities, teaching business, typing and computer courses while serving as the photographer for the school. Most notably, Arthurs’ work is seen at RummelRaiders.com and is frequently displayed here at CrescentCitySports.com.
The tree of careers that Arthurs has grown is quite impressive.
At Rummel, Arthurs helped start New Orleans Saints photographer Michael Hebert’s (Class of 1978) career and LSU photographer Steve Franz’s (Class of 1988) career. Long-time Times-Picayune and The Advocate photographer Rusty Constanza (Class of 1982) also cut his teeth at Rummel with Arthurs.
“Bill is a great guy, teacher and mentor,” Franz said. “He was really helpful and supportive when I was at Rummel and after I went on to LSU. I wish I could have been there last night but we were a little busy with LSU and BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. I really wanted to be there. I was busy with a job that he prepared me for. I guess that it is ironic but it tells you what he means to me and to so many others.”
Constanza is every bit as grateful to Arthurs.
“I took Mr. Bill’s photography class as a junior,” Costanza said. “At the end of the year, he asked if any of us had experience working in the darkroom The yearbook staff was way behind on processing film and making prints. I had a home darkroom and loved the work, so I volunteered. I took the yearbook class my senior year. One day during basketball season, Mr. Bill wrote on a contact sheet, ‘who shot this.’ It was mine. That little note inspired me. He liked it. He is one of several people I can thank for my three decade career. He helped shape my life and the lives of many others. I am forever grateful. Photographing his birthday surprise was an honor.”
Phil Caruso graduated from Rummel in 1974 and has gone on to be one of the top still photographers in the motion picture and television industry, working with Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard, among others. All have publicly credited Arthurs with the success they have enjoyed.
“I’m sick that I could not be there,” Caruso said. “He came out to Los Angeles for my lifetime achievement award. He was a huge part of providing my current life. He’s always been as close to our family as part of our family. We’ve seen each other’s children grow up. I got interested in photography at Rummel and he was there for me and really helped me like no one could have. I am always so grateful to him. He had me come take some photos when Rummel played at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey in 2015. It was like old times.”
When Arthurs shoots Rummel athletic events, he always makes sure to take good photos of the opponents as well, the consummate professional, the consummate sportsman. To say that Arthurs is there to champion all participants, not just the Raiders, would be more than accurate.
Arthurs was inducted into the Rummel Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 for his contributions and he was honored last year as a Rummel legend.
Brother Gale Condit served at Rummel on three different occasions, including at the beginning of school history, worked with Arthurs over the course of many years. Condit was at Rummel in 1965, returned to the school in both the 1970’s and served from 1989-99 before returning to Rummel from 2012-16 as the school president.
“Without any hesitation, I would say that Bill is a man committed to education, who cares about each and every student and is very demanding about himself,” Condit said. “He has done a marvelous job teaching, with the yearbook and with photography. He is one of the last of the originals, guys that go way back. His experience is unparalleled. He came to Rummel straight from Tulane. He has never changed. He is such a fine man. He has a great love for the school and he is so good for those young men he has taught and encountered.”
Athletic director Phil Greco has been at Rummel since 1995.
“Longevity is an unbelievable thing,” Greco said. “He’s likely seen more Rummel athletic events than anyone in school history. It is always good to have someone who is a solid person and solid professional. Everyone at Rummel knows he will be out there. Everyone from the past knows him. He is beloved by our alumni and has great interaction with them. He is great to work with. He is as much a part of Archbishop Rummel as anyone in school history. Everyone can relate to him. He has seen it all. He’s like a rock.”
Jay Roth was a student at Rummel from 1978-81, playing quarterback for an undefeated football team. He has served as the head coach at his alma mater since 1995.
“Bill is a gentleman, always behind the scenes who blends in, very unselfish,” Roth said. “He is always there when you need him. He never turns down a request. He never says no. He is genuine, a loyal Rummel Raider. It just does not happen much that a guy stays in one place for 53 years. We have so much admiration for him. We are so happy to have him. No one understands the legacy of Archbishop Rummel High School more than Bill does.”
Bill’s wife, Diane Arthurs passed away in 2009. Carrie, Kate and Alison have been there as loving daughters. Matthew Callahan is a grandson of Arthurs.
“He has always said that he has three daughters but that he has hundreds, thousands of sons at Rummel,” Carrie said. “That is how much he loves the school. He has been everything to our family. He is the entertainer, the provider, he has always been a part of everything. He doesn’t miss anything in our lives and we don’t play sports. We did everything in the arts world imaginable and he was still there. He has given us a great life. He made it a hard act to follow to find a spouse. He’s a great model of what a man and father should be.”
Rummel honored Arthurs as a legend in 2016.
“That sums it up,” Carrie said .”He’s been there for every single graduating class. I often have people come up to me and ask me if I’m his daughter. I always tell them that I am and I always ask them when they graduated. My dad remembers virtually everyone. One guy told me he graduated in 1979. I was five. Rummel is such a huge part of his life. It is a big part of our lives. I’m not a guy or a graduate but I am a Raider who understands Raider Pride. He didn’t want a celebration. He doesn’t want to acknowledge that he is 75. We made sure of it.”
The daughter had one final word of praise for her father.
“He is not a stereotypical educator,” Arthurs said. “He is so devoted to what he does. After we surprised him, he said that it was cool. That was pleasing to hear. When he says something, it means so much. He is genuine as it gets. He was really happy that the Raider band, cheerleaders, Chapellettes and Rummel art classes honored him. They have meant so much to him over the years. That is as good as it could ever get. He as good of a father as anyone could ever get.”
Bill Arthurs is as good as Archbishop Rummel can and will ever get.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…