PRESTRIDGE, GEORGE SIMEON, Lumberman and Man of Affairs —In the course of an active and colorful career, George Simeon Prestridge rose from the modest circumstances of his early life to a position of prominence and wide influence. As a young man he was a driver for a Southern lumber company, the owner of a single mule team, but he possessed the vision, courage and energy to plan for larger things and the ability to translate his dreams into actuality. At the time of his death he had been a leading figure for many years in the Frost lumber enterprises and was president of the Frost- Whited Investment Company of Shreveport, Louisiana, a financial institution owned and operated by officers of the present Frost Lumber Industries, Inc.
Mr. Prestridge was born on a plantation near Mansfield, Louisiana, on October 25, 1860, a son of George Hopper and Rebecca (Frost) Prestridge. His father, a planter, was born in 1831 and died in 1862 of pneumonia contracted while serving in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. His family was of English origin and was established in the South many years ago.
George Simeon Prestridge, after the death of his father, was raised by his maternal grandfather. He received his education in the country schools of Texarkana, Arkansas, and for a number of years, on beginning the active business of life, was engaged as a farmer. In 1882, however, he entered the employ of E.W. Frost, working in various capacities about the Frost sawmill at Texarkana and sometimes driving a mule team between the mill and town. In 1884 Mr. Prestridge returned to farming, but two years later he rejoined the Frost organization at Genoa, Arkansas. At that time he was the owner of one team. Gradually, as his ability was recognized, he rose within the Frost organization, assuming positions of great responsibility and trust. In 1906 he participated in the organization of the Black Lake Lumber Company, which erected a longleaf pine mill at Campti, Louisiana. This enterprise was subsequently merged, in September, 1908, with the Johnson Lumber Company, of which Mr. Prestridge was elected vice-president, director and member of the executive committee. Shortly, afterwards he removed to Shreveport, Louisiana, where his activities centered until the time of his death.
Mr. Prestridge was thoroughly familiar with all details connected with lumbering operations through personal experience, and his services were of the greatest value to his company. His outlook was progressive and enterprising, but was tempered by a wise conservatism in action and his judgment was almost inevitably sound. He enjoyed the profound respect of all his associates and of business men and industrial leaders in general. His interests steadily expanded with the passing years and at the time of his death he was a director of the Frost Lumber Industries, Inc., of Texas; president and director of the Union Sawmill Company of Huttig, Arkansas; vice-president and director of the Arkansas and Louisiana Missouri Railways Company ; vice-president of the Louisiana and Pine Bluff Railway Company; a director of the Nacogdoches and South eastern Railroad Company of Texas ; assistant secretary-treasurer and a director of the Union Power Company, Inc.; a director of the Shreveport Long Leaf Lumber Company, the Perfection Oak Flooring Company and the Slagel-Johnson Lumber Company; and a director of the Commercial National Bank of Shreveport and the Central Savings Bank and Trust Company of Monroe, Louisiana. All these were in addition to his connection with the important Frost-Whited Investment Company, Inc. Of this latter organization, he was first made vice-president and secretary-treasurer, succeeding to the presidency a few years before his death.
In spite of his vast interests, Mr. Prestridge bore his arduous duties easily. He was a true leader of industry and finance in this State, a man whose accomplishments commanded the widest respect and whose influence was of the greatest constructive value in the upbuilding of those sections in which his activities centered. He was a Democrat in politics and apart from his business interests was always concerned with civic affairs, generously supporting all worthy movements in the public interest. In earlier days he had served as justice of the peace at Texarkana. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He was an active member of the First Methodist Church at Shreveport and was long a member of its board of stewards. In his personal life he was a man of simple tastes and habits, fond of the outdoors, of flowers and nature in its various manifestations and of travel. He was also particularly fond of home life and was always devoted to his wife and children. Mr. Prestridge was a member of the Shreveport Country Club, the Hoo Hoo Lumber Fraternity and of several fishing and hunting clubs, where he found rest and recreation in his leisure hours. On November 24, 1881, in Union County, Arkansas, he married Alma Virginia Thompson, daughter of William Thomas and Mary (Morgan) Thompson. Her father, a planter and a veteran of the Confederate cause, died at Eldorado, Arkansas, in 1903. Her mother, a native of Georgia, lives at the time of writing with her daughter in Shreveport, being in her ninetieth year. Mr. and Mrs. Prestridge became the parents of the following children: 1. Delia, who married Walter McCrocklin; they have the following children, George, Virginia, Jack, Thomas, and Margaret. 2. Mattie, who married Ed Smith and is the mother of three children, Neal, Foster, and Vivian. 3. Vivian, who married John J. Ellington; they have two children, Ferrill and Prestridge. 4. Catherine, wife of Herbert M. Barney; they have one daughter, Evelyn. Mr. Prestridge died at Shreveport on March 28, 1931, in his seventy-first year. His sudden passing came as a severe shock to the city, where he had so long been a leader, and word of his loss was received with the deepest regret wherever he was known. He rose to prominence through his own efforts, but his early struggles never embittered him and until the last he retained the good humor, friendliness and generous spirit which made him an ever-welcome companion and brought him the warm affection of many friends. His death was a serious loss to city and State and the value of his life survives and will remain in years to come an enduring monument to his fame.