A police motorcade leads the vehicle process to the cemetery during the funeral for Richard Zuschlag, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Acadian Ambulance service, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at in Lafayette, La.

Richard Zuschlag's life and legacy have left an indelible mark on our state and beyond.?Zuschlag was more than a business leader; he was a statesman, a friend and a champion for good. His unwavering dedication to Louisiana and its people made our state a better place for everyone.

His journey began in Greenville, Pennsylvania, but it was in Louisiana where he found his true calling. After graduating from the Capitol Institute of Technology, his assignment with Westinghouse brought him to Lafayette, where he and two friends founded what would become a pioneering force in emergency medical services — Acadian Companies. From humble beginnings,?Zuschlag's vision and leadership transformed Acadian into a national leader in pre-hospital emergency medical care, touching countless lives along the way.

His contributions were not limited to the business realm.?Zuschlag was a beacon of philanthropy and community service, dedicating his time and resources to myriad civic organizations. His passion for making a difference was evident in his work with the United Way, St. Thomas More Catholic High School and Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Acadiana among many others. His leadership extended to roles such as chairman of the Lafayette Parish Communication District and member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, underscoring his commitment to improving the lives of those around him.

His legacy is also intertwined with the history of AT&T in Louisiana. He worked closely with two of the company's former leaders: Bill Oliver and Danny Wilson, both of whom have also passed. Together, they fostered a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect that helped bridge the gap between telecommunications and emergency services, ensuring that communities across Louisiana had access to essential services.

David Aubrey

David Aubrey

The accolades?Zuschlag received throughout his career, from the J. Walter Schaefer Award to the Lafayette Civic Cup, are a testament to his impact and dedication. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. magazine for his heroic efforts during Hurricane Katrina, a true reflection of his character and resolve. Zuschlag's induction into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame and his being named a "Louisiana Legend" by Louisiana Public Broadcasting highlight the profound influence he had on our state.

Beyond the awards and recognition, it was?Zuschlag's love for Louisiana and its people that truly defined him. He believed in the power of community and worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had access to high-quality medical care. His vision, generosity and leadership have left an enduring legacy that will inspire future generations.

As we mourn, we are reminded of the countless lives he touched and the lasting impact he made. His spirit of service, integrity and unwavering determination are qualities we should all strive to emulate. His legacy lives on through his family, the company he built and the communities he loved so dearly.

In his memory, let us continue to work together to make Louisiana a better place for all. Rest in peace, my friend. Your life and legacy will never be forgotten.

David Aubrey is the president of AT&T Louisiana.