Episcopal alumnus Dion Warr '90 reflects on how his grandmother's influence instilled a lifelong love of learning and how he hopes to share that love with others through his Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign participation.
I remember making the trip back and forth from Plaquemine to Episcopal each day. As I logged the miles between home and education I was filled with excitement, hope and promise. At Episcopal I made lifelong friends; I participated in everything from service projects to track. I remember the feeling in Foster as exams approached, the camaraderie in Webster Refectory and mentorship of teachers and coaches. Episcopal left a lasting imprint upon my life. So much so that my wife and I have entrusted our own children to the school. The education and character development I received at Episcopal set my future path for success. This path originated back home before I ever crossed the river for school and before I ever became a Knight.
On my fourth Christmas, I received a Raggedy Ann and Andy chalkboard from Santa, which almost exclusively stayed at her house, where she lived with my great-grandmother. On one side was a green surface with the eponymous characters, a stamped set of the upper-case alphabet and numerals; on the other was a plain blackboard surface. When I spent time with her after school and during summers while my mother was at work, we would fill the chalkboard with words, sentences, and arithmetic for hours as she would ask questions, prompt me for answers, and prod me for explanations. When I could not answer or explain, she would send me off to find the information necessary from the dictionary, the encyclopedia, or from the old textbooks that my mother and uncle had discarded which somehow had found their way into her inventory. Then I would report back what I had found out, frequently having to discuss how I had come to find the information necessary to complete the task, solve the problem, or become sure of my answer.
I never recalled any hint of discouragement with her as to my young attempts to understand and/or explain the world, ignorant or misinformed as they might had been at times. When I had set down a wrong-headed path, she would inquire about facts and point out flaws in reasoning or mistakes in computation, or facts, or verb tense, or ask me to reconsider what I had recited. While she did possess the free time to engage me in such exercises, she seemed never to tire in the process, all the while laying a foundation for love of knowledge and of learning in her youngest grandson.
Though she expressed disappointment that I would not be spending as much time with her when I was accepted into Episcopal prior to my sixth grade year and would necessarily be traveling back and forth across the river for almost an hour and a half each day, she could not have been more pleased that I would be attending a school which would further serve to challenge me academically. She celebrated my accomplishments but always reminded me to keep working and to not “rest on my laurels”.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was in high school. After a certain amount of time and fight had passed, she would stay with us from time to time while she continued to make the circuits between doctors’ offices, rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Even through rehabilitation, complications and her increasing frailty she continued to inquire about my studies and press me about college. During one of my last visits with her at the hospital, I was able to let her know that I had received my early acceptance letter into college; she looked up, nodded and squeezed my hand. She passed during winter exams just a few days later.
If you’d like to make a gift in honor of someone who has inspired you or if you’d like more information on the Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign, please contact Mellie Bailey at 755-2687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dion Warr, CPL
After graduating from Episcopal, Dion studied Biological Chemistry at Tulane University. After graduation, he worked in industrial construction, right-of-way acquisition and project management prior to returning to work with his mother and stepfather as an independent petroleum landman. He is married to the former Jennifer Seaton Wendt with two children (the younger of whom graduated from Episcopal in 2017) and resides in Baton Rouge. He is active in his local and national professional landman associations, serving on the Board of Directors of each as well as chairing educational and technology committees and events, with a concentration on integrating each in the mentoring of current and future landmen.