Fritz Lang, 1903 - 1998

Born in 1903 in Durbach, a small town in the German Black Forest along the French border, Fritz Lang’s native country was in a state of financial collapse when he left home for America at the age of 19.  On money borrowed from a relative, young Lang traveled by passenger ship from Hamburg to New York in March 1923.  He found his first job in a restaurant in Pennsylvania.  He worked 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, with one-half day off every two weeks.  For this, he was given room and board and $4.00 per week.  Starting a lifetime pattern, he was persistent and patient during the years it took to repay his ship passage to America.  Then he continued his adventures and education by signing up on a Sinclair Oil Company tanker bound for Texas, trying to learn from each experience.

Once in Texas, Mr. Lang joined the booming search for oil, working for North American Exploration Company.  A year later, he was employed by Shell Oil, a company he remained with for 32 years. Mr. Lang started as a rodman on a seismic crew with Shell and in two years worked his way up to seismic party manager, then on to party supervisor.  During those years of seismic work, the strapping young man traveled over every parish in Louisiana, and saw most of Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas.

Many of his dealings were with cattlemen and farmers, and he developed a personal interest in these businesses and love for the land that supported them.  He was also an avid sportsman, fostering a passion for all that South Louisiana had to offer in the way of wildlife and culture.

After seeing so much of the world, Mr. Lang decided to return to Lake Arthur, drawn by the beauty and bounty of the countryside and a young lady named Margaret Riette.  Fritz and Margaret married in 1930 and he proudly became a U.S. citizen the following year.

In 1943 the Langs bought a 300 acre farm on the South shores of Lake Arthur and completed their home there in 1952.  Mr. Lang took an early retirement from Shell in 1956 to pursue rice, soybean and cattle farming.  He served as a member on several boards including the Jeff Davis Electric Co-op and International Brangus Breeders Association.

Even after coming so far, life was not always fair.  Mr. Lang lost his only son at age 6 in a tragic accident.  His beloved Margaret passed away in 1978, and he fought several heroic battles to overcome debilitating personal health problems.  However, each time Mr. Lang found strength, solace and support surrounded by his large “adopted” family under the moss draped oaks on Lake Arthur.  Here he stayed until his death in August 1998 at the age of 95.

Mr. Lang’s zeal for knowledge, perseverance and prudent business sense resulted in financial prosperity.  He enjoyed sharing this by actively participating in civic projects, making many generous donations to his community including the renovation of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, the Pavilion at the end of Main Street in Lake Arthur and the Klondike Fire Department.

In 1989 he created the Fritz Lang Foundation promoting agriculture to benefit the education of local youth. The scholarship program was founded in 1991 and has issued grants of several hundred thousand dollars for assistance to college students.  Other donations for advancement of agriculture education interests benefit  schools in Vermilion, Jefferson Davis and Acadia Parishes, and the Agricultural Departments at McNeese State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Louisiana State University at Eunice.

Mr. Lang is remembered by those who had the privilege of knowing him as a quiet, kind, Southern gentleman with bright eyes, a big smile and a bigger heart.  Most importantly, he was a living example that anyone can overcome poverty, servitude, hardship, and personal loss to live a full and prosperous life and leave a positive impact on their community and the future.