In June 2000, Laura "Jane" Westerman established The Westerman Foundation. From humble beginnings in southern Louisiana, Jane realized the importance of education and the value of her Catholic faith.
In 1952, Jane married Howard G. Westerman Sr. together they raised their seven children, built a very successful business and developed a personal history and philosophy of philanthropy. The center of their lives was always their strong Catholic faith.
Following the death of Howard, Jane wanted to insure that support of those institutions close to her heart would continue. These include causes related to the Catholic Church and enriching the lives of the poor by making quality education available to them. She created this foundation as the best method of on-going support of that goal.
Heaven opened its gates wide to welcome one of its saints, Laura Jane Westerman, home on April 5, 2012.
She was born August 1, 1930 in Sulphur, Louisiana to Una Mae and Jason David. Laura Jane lived a long and happy life fulfilling 3 childhood dreams. First she traveled the world with her deeply devoted husband of 47 years, Howard G. Westerman, Sr. Secondly, Laura Jane had a great thirst for knowledge. She left home at 17, and finished her formal education at a Secretarial College in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Throughout the next 60 years, she never stopped educating herself. Growing up, Laura Jane's third dream was to give of herself. This was one wish that never stopped growing. When her children were young, she gave her time and talent to both room mother and librarian. Laura Jane also found time to dedicate over 1200 hours as a volunteer at various local hospitals. She was a 50+ year member of the Women's Guild at St. Paul the Apostle Church, and served on the building committee during the 1980's and had a large influence on the construction and interior design of the church as it stands today. She was a long standing member of the Visiting Nurse Association for Meals on Wheels for 20 years. She was known to visit nursing homes and give pedicures to the elderly who had no one else to care for them. Mrs. Westerman also paid for surgeries for complete strangers. Howard Westerman Sr. made Laura Jane a co-founder of J-W Operating Company in 1960. Mrs. Wester-man held the position of Secretary/ Treasurer for 37 years as a Board of Directors for J-W Energy Company of Dallas, Texas.
Laura Jane established the Westerman Foundation in 2000. In 2008, Benedictine College bestowed on her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for her life-long selfless examples of good works which in her wisdom including providing the initial funding for the first chapter of FOCUS in 1998. She was a longtime supporter of the Scholarship Ball, the Angel's Scholarship, the Howard G. Westerman Sr. Memorial Scholarship, and supporter of various campus renovation improvements. In 1980, Benedictine College bestowed Mr. and Mrs. Westerman with the Order of St. Benedict Award.
Laura Jane Westerman led a deeply spiritual life committed to serving Our Lord and Creator. She is survived by seven children, several of whom attended Benedictine College: Howard, Jr ; Mark; Paul; Celeste; Robert; Lené; and Jason; plus 18 grandchildren, including Aubrey Westerman, Lindsey Westerman, and James Lewis III. She was also blessed with 12 great-grandchildren.
She touched many lives and will be sorely missed by her large family and friends alike.