Joseph David Waggonner, Jr. (September 7, 1918 – October 7, 2007), better known as Joe D. Waggonner, was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Bossier Parish who served nine terms in Congress and represented the 4th Congressional District of Northwest Louisiana from December 1961 until January 1979.
Waggonner graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1941 where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 1977, he was named a charter recipient of the Tower Medallion for distinguished Louisiana Tech alumni. He was also Alumnus of the Year in 1992. There are two Joe D. Waggonner Professorships at Louisiana Tech -- one in Political Science and the other in Engineering.
Waggonner was first elected to public office in 1954 to a seat on the Bossier Parish School Board, of which he was president from 1956 to 1957. In 1960, he was elected to the Louisiana State Board of Education from the Northwest Louisiana district. In 1961, he was chosen as president of both the Louisiana School Boards Association and the United Schools Committee of Louisiana.
Many will remember Waggonner because of his relationships with Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Over the years, they collaborated on legislation in the United States House of Representatives. Ford was Republican Majority Leader in the House, and Waggonner led Democratic moderate and conservative forces. Ford and Waggonner often forged bipartisan alliances on legislation.
When Richard Nixon was elected President, it was Ford who told Nixon to establish a strong relationship with Waggonner if he wanted to get his ideas and programs approved by Congress.
During the latter part of his congressional career, Waggonner used his influence to secure funding for Interstate 49 and the Inner and Outer Loop, as well as funding for the Red River Waterway.
Furthermore, he was instrumental in persuading General Motors to build a plant in Shreveport.
Waggonner supported Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City and worked to keep the base open while other bases around the country were targeted for closure. In 1998, Waggonner was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, Louisiana.
Joe D. Waggonner passed away on October 7, 2007 in Shreveport, Louisiana.