Gary Esolen, leader of the Greater New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation for 10 years beginning in 1991, passed away on Sept. 19th. He was 75. Esolen was a graduate of LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, where he earned a Master’s degree in English. He later became an assistant dean at Cornell University and then a writer and teacher in upstate New York before moving to New Orleans. He was the founder editor and publisher of Gambit, a weekly newspaper that featured news, political gossip and reviews and commentary on entertainment, restaurants and music.
Esolen left Gambit in 1987 and took a position as co-chairman of the Greater New Orleans Marketing Committee. In 1991, he was named executive vice president of the organization. After he left the group, he continued to write. He was also an actor, poet and playwright. He was described by his wife and business partner, Valeri LeBlanc, as “a big man with big vision, great understanding and a huge heart and New Orleans was a place that matched that. It has all those characteristics that fit him perfectly.”