Thomas Parrish Lief passed away on Monday, October 19, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana at the age of 89. He was a proud military veteran and had a long career in higher education. Born in New York City in 1931, he graduated from Walden School in 1950, then attended University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a member of the Air Force ROTC. He served in the United States Air Force from 1956 to 1959 as an intelligence officer and navigator with top secret clearance in the Strategic Air Command. He completed his military career as a Reserve Officer of the Air Force with the rank of Captain. He was married with Dona Lee Lief for 34 years. They met at Holloman Air Force Base and exchanged marriage vows in 1961, working together on a team that surveyed early human settlements in the Four Corners region for the New Mexico Museum of Anthropology. That same year, they moved to New Orleans, where he lived for the remainder of his life. After finishing his BA and MA at University of New Mexico, he obtained his PhD in Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. While working on his doctoral degree, he taught at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans. He was the Chair of the Department of Sociology at Loyola in 1967. As Professor of Sociology, he taught for 30 years at Southern University at New Orleans, where he served as Chair of the Sociology Department, as well as Director of the SUNO Substance Abuse Training Program, which he founded. For over three decades, he developed and enhanced a number of treatment facilities in Louisiana, and was instrumental in bringing Odyssey House Treatment Program to New Orleans. Serving on multiple commissions and working with several Louisiana governors and legislators, he played a key role in helping the state recognize alcoholism as a disease. This work culminated in the creation of the Louisiana Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse by legislative act in 1984. Throughout his entire adult life, he was also committed to the recognition of Native Americans and advocated for Native American cultural and educational programs. This activity ranged from conducting site surveys in the 1960s in the Southwestern United States to prevent highways from disrupting burial sites, to co-founding the Native American Training Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Out of respect and friendship, he was given the name “Warrior Eagle Bird.” For many years, he participated in the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association Powwow in Gonzales, Louisiana. He also loved singing with the Jefferson Chorale and hunting wildlife “with their permission”—with his camera. Tom was the beloved son of Zola and Alfred Lief and father of two sons: Aram Lief and his wife Marcia Mirella Lief with their daughter Lela; and Shane Lief and his wife Sarah Shelton. Family and friends are invited to attend the Funeral Service at 1:00pm on Friday, October 30, 2020 at Greenwood Funeral Home, 5200 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70124. Visitation will begin at 11:00am and continue until the Service, which will also be broadcast online; please contact Greenwood for more information. To help ensure the health of everyone, attendees must wear a face mask and practice social distancing, and an outside area will be available during visitation. Condolences may be expressed through donations to the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association.
The family invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online, at www.greenwoodfh.com
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 10/30/2020 at 12:45 PM, Central Standard Time.