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WWL>Topics>>10-2 3:10p Angela Hill One on One with Gayle Benson

10-2 3:10p Angela Hill One on One with Gayle Benson

Oct 2, 2013|

Our 2nd Open book conversation with the first lady of the New Orleans Saints.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

She is known as the first lady of the saints and she is our special guest for our open book segment. -- Benson is always seem beside her husband Tom whether on a hot practice field. On the sidelines before a game or any number of charitable events they contribute to. Anyone who has known Gael knows her to be kind generous and gracious woman and for those of us lucky enough a wonderful friend. And full disclosure. -- has been my dearest friend and I figured out 36. Years. Let me -- we have been through some good times and some bad but 36. Years unbelievable. Your life took a magnificent -- almost nine years ago when -- met Tom. And we want to hear all about the sort of fairy tale life I think we envisioned for you but before that I think people would be very interested to know. Pitcher you grew up on the West Bank your Moreira girl. Energy Algiers is before it was fashionable. -- -- a lot -- talk to us about growing up. Well first about. Angel thank you for having me I really am honored that you would consider me to beat -- wanna give best friends and to be here today and I appreciate it thank thank. Growing up on the West Bank was a lot of fun we it's a simple life and as. Things aren't so simple anymore but they were no cell phones and none of those kind of things so we. -- two learn how to run outside and play and entertain ourselves but it was a good life it was fun. Grew up in the Catholics who. At a Catholic education which was really wonderful and I attribute. My life today to my religion. I was lucky enough to know both of your parents. And -- charged say they're no longer with us but. They are were very very special people. And there's now knowing you as I do there's a little of EU from down. But you had as I knew knew early on really were very -- issue had in all the positive ways you were very determined. And I wonder where you think you got that. Well. I think being in the oldest. Whenever with our oldest in the family I think we need to. Being more active and be the one who's the leader so. As the oldest in the Stanley cushy and not only to -- east and we couldn't -- -- the things we've known each other -- on. But in the oldest in the family I -- I really felt like I needed to be the one who would get out there in. Make an example from my brother and sister. And now -- And so are always hit the desire to have my own business and -- always love beautiful things. And wanted to be an interior designer says that's what I set my goals on in that's what I eventually did. I'm until I'm married Tom Benson at the. Well and we're gonna again get to that but when I'm that you in 1977. You were transitioning into that beautiful world of interior design that. As I know has been a passion of yours from a very young child but you had worked many other jobs and I think you were in you'd want all kinds of awards. In the sales of jewelry and I remembered as I first got to know -- open wound she is so entrepreneur oral. And you really you really dark. And I really enjoyed that I loved at the time it was a custom jewelry company based out of New York. And I just threw myself into it and did everything I could demands make it successful. I head. Probably 25 ladies that worked under me as I was a director. And it was just really a lot of fun to motivate these people and see them grow and seem able to make money and make a better life for themselves and their family and so it gave me great pleasure. And then you took it to the big diet and since I'm going to be in interior design -- you -- -- I decided that I was gonna fulfill my dream. And now started doing interior design. Started buying real estate -- renovated properties and started selling them. And then later on in life I would renovate properties and just keep them. And so I did a few historic properties that I hated and know when I'm -- term. I hit two in saint Charles avenue and then hit one -- history. And now and they were beautiful and I enjoyed it and I just felt like when we acquired something in life we're obligated to take care of it that's what I want to do. And yes an -- I wish people could see those buildings -- spectacular just you were born to do what to do it. But there were some tough times to yes they were tough times but I think in all of our lives they -- tough times and like my husband always says. The good people come up to the top in the tough times you know tough times never last we just have to. Stay focused and continue to do what we know we wanna do we need to do. Both of us have been through the pain of divorce and it is painful. Regardless of how well things turn out. What how did you carry. -- I hit a lot of faith as a still do. And I knew that got hit a plan from me. Had been divorced over twenty years I don't know exactly when it was but it was a long time. And I hit sort of decided that I was never gonna marry again I was 57 years so when I'm married Tom and I -- surely no man was gonna have a look at me again. And I felt like I was I was all set I hit my Korea hit my real estate him hit a beautiful home. I feel like everything's going to be great for me I was very active in the church. And spent a lot of time at the church and so. -- felt like I was pretty -- -- Benson is our guest today and we kind of left off where you had been single for a very long time. You were very content. With a very successful interior design business Shubert. We're doing a beautiful buildings. And you had a lot of friends a lot of activities and your church. And I know how involved you were with the church because I knew you went every single day and you were a reader. And so take us back here one day it was just a regular day it was just a regular. Monday morning and you went to mass like I always did it the 730. -- And now and I don't I didn't at the time Wear contacts and so I did not see where now at a distance. So I was reading from the lectured lectured. The lecture he and I and I. Looked up every once in awhile and I saw ha. A congregation of about twelve people. And I looked -- I thought. I saw this gentleman with another man enough but that was strange you know men in -- cause people to come in suits. And didn't pay much attention and so that demand so when the -- the second street and mess was over I was gathering my little things and the -- senior at the time came up to me and said -- do you know attendants and I said now when he says it will arm you can meeting in little more -- He said because he's walking across the ultra right -- and assistant heard of him can he be doing that he's not allowed to do that. So he books and back the sacks and he tells the monsignor how much he appreciated the services he channeled through his. Wife had died who disgrace. And he said. And who has -- -- and he looked at me and I thought to myself back off buddy and I insisted the and you know he looked at me and I should contain them not quickly left. And a day or so later I got a phone call from the office. And offering me tickets to an arena football game. And then he -- you know what arena football wise now. I really didn't end the month singing had called me and said you know determines who's looking for you found on the do you mind by giving -- a civil -- what he called me. He says -- he wants to give you some tickets to the -- minister -- you know I'm really not a football person so I'm really not interested. In getting tickets for -- in easyJet Galey worked opponent -- and trying to raise money you might wanna go. So it was -- stand messaging now I've tried to put him off message you know a really keen -- modest. And I've spoken with my mother and she said Janelle she said why don't she goes she says it's okay will delay Mother's -- -- So reluctantly -- win. Around town tell me that he was innocent his drive to pick me happened I was totally against that messaging him. I know how to drive I can get to the sit down -- know exactly where it is I don't need some money to pick me he says no no we can -- the drive. So after a little bit of -- debate you know when you talk with timing your negotiations forget it he's gonna get what you want it. So us said -- OK so they pick him Rodney picked me up. And he's driving. To the sit down of course you know I'm no worries -- -- strait of saint Charles and I'm just sitting back there he gets found Colin. Somebody -- as somebody did ask him to go pick up such and such. And Rodney says unknown and a I have to go straight to the rain with this lady and then I can take care does this I have to do this right away and just. Are running so no -- -- strict instructions I need to get she did the arena. So I got to the arena and they taking pictures animal in the -- looking around thinking -- -- -- here. And you know a time when pictures and -- can sit there we go up in the suite I'm thinking well this will be nice you know -- enjoy this game. And whatever -- can do and you know it's like in basketball court to me it was the arena but it was set up for. What I would look like to me as a half of football because it was -- well hello tomorrow. So we get up in the suite has all these people and I'm thinking no this is that I can get lost in the crowd now beef on where he sits -- right next to him. Precedent assessment as apparently in an interest -- necessary but maybe -- to -- them by giving me a check for the church. And so I'm sitting next and I mean he's been there more than. And he was making me nervous because he was being too attentive to me not to everything else surrounding. And after the game he said to me. Would you like to go to dinner. And -- and eat you know day so I sit around you know I guess he'll never Rodney within a beer. So. -- just in this time. So we driving dancing -- first you know we get in the car he -- -- to go home. Precedent so here I am in a car with this strange man on a new Woody's gonna do how he's gonna act it's an Oregon did. So I -- -- messages stay calm you with it'll be a cash. So where the car and he starts driving. In the -- where I want to go in. Until and to Monica stuff figured it was close quick get out of it. So we pass up to Monica's and he gets an instance we're going. He said well it's a little early for dinner will it really wasn't early again and but you know Tom -- -- it was early dinner -- So as to where we -- Allen he's -- -- go out to the lake front to seek the boat -- I said though that he says -- I have a boat dock at this -- so we drive out to them lake front and he opens the gate. And it's a -- with number asset and it's pretty chilly do you. -- -- -- Did you make -- excuses as to how beautiful the good -- was with no doubt we're supposed -- So proud you -- done -- -- that's really eight. He said and I have a boat that goes from that ability of the status of the GS it's beautiful so we rode around for a little while looking at the dock. And then he decided it was time to have dinner. So we go to -- Monica's. We driving to get -- in the in the state he says to me marry. Sit now since that Mary -- -- what is rings -- doesn't rose tree rings. He said those -- emeritus at -- but I Wear these pretty your -- something can. However the -- rings to keep everybody away from me thinking that everyone would think I was married but that didn't work with -- and and so. We go to -- He drops me off at my house and had a nice time I had a wonderful time he is such a wonderful man even after nine years I just. I'm marvel over his enthusiasm. His energy. His mind everything about me it's just -- crap you dated for just six or months or mind. And he asked me to go to his home for dinner one night. And now we -- -- there was going to be dinner there and people. And instead it was just he and I and he pulls out of his pocket this little red box. Inputs on the table and I'm thinking. What is he doing you know because I heard it was a coin because he used to show me diesel coined that he would get from the saints. So I'm thinking it's a coin if he's consuming he pulls up this box and he opens and he says who he married and -- my goodness I wish. He said that's not the right needs he said we need a battering incident doesn't marry it. So immediately. He wanted to go to my parents' home to ask their permission. Which was so sweet and you know that first night that first day that he dropped me off for after that dinner date. He blew me kiss on the front -- -- ages it was so endearing to my heart so refreshing. And I thought how kind. Then anyone we do that and. To know something -- and this is 36 years of knowing him. You are a lady anybody can notion will save it and I got immediately from new. When you finally said I'm going out with Tom Benson that he was such a gentleman. And I think that that. Is very much he had to then you wouldn't have married somebody who was. Now he was he was a totally jamming it to him for dates of dropping -- often blowing me kisses. Until he kissed me on the sad face and -- around this this man has really great. So I was impressed. You know you've had a beautiful wedding in San Antonio. And I remember watching you walk up the and I thought to myself very clearly. Does she understand not that her life is changing but her world is changing our special guest today is -- Benson and she has taken most of her life an -- walking down I'll what you -- that we yeah we are allotted an. And you're you're going up to the -- you're going to marry Tom Benson. And in fact your world truly changed. Big time. It did but in you know. I really had no idea and you know time always tells the story. And town rotting in San Antonio also. You know everybody was waiting. And they played the music. And I'm sitting there talking to the blessed mother thinking well they can come get me they come get me. And I heard people cheering him them what they do. And the next thing you know they did come to get me and timing is my parents did she change -- mind what is she doing. Because that was a great delay yes bridesmaids walking -- they were and then it was you couldn't see the bride now -- it was an in Tom was going where Reche. But anyway it began a fabulous life and and I think I speak for everybody Tom Benson. Like you and people say oh they were so very different I never saw the difference I saw what you had in common. Which as you both came from very humble beginnings you both have tremendous work ethics. And you both are so generous. In your hearts so. To -- were the perfect couple. But all of a sudden to be in this world if your own airplane. When you talk about the -- like we're talking about a politician I know you call out its -- It really is and homes in various places and a variety of people you get to meet from presidents to great football players and coaches. It's incredible. It is incredible it's a wonderful life. It takes a lot of discipline. You know people think it's very glamorous and it's not that glamorous I mean -- a lot of work involved. We travel a lot in and again it sounds like it's a lot of fun in its glamour and it is it's a lot of fun we really enjoy. Doing all the things that we do but he is a lot of working takes a lot of time -- A lot of organizational skills and -- his incredible group of people at the office I mean it's unbelievable to me. They are just so dedicated to him and -- it's just makes everybody's life so easy. Well but I also note that he has tremendous respect for you -- in your opinion I think that was evidenced. When we learned that Thomas going to by the pelicans. And -- Europe influence in that decision. Well I just -- -- -- -- It's a great thing for the city. It's a great thing for the fans and I think that everybody we just needed that they need it needed to be done. And no one was stepping up so he was just time for a time to step up and do that. -- -- Now married to Tom now part of the sports world and I know for a fact in the very early days. When you would go to the saints came long before Tom you would take magazines -- me I think he kind of said volley. Tell me that you in fact enjoy the games we're now idea and I enjoy him very much and look over tune in you know. When we first got married and we started going to these games I used to think she was sounding games. And it label it the pelicans and and -- -- is nothing I mean now it's like you know it's a walk in the park to go to these eighteen games that we have. But. It's. It's been really good you know when we first got engaged town. Introduce me to Mickey -- and Mickey was very kind and he still is -- these very generous with his knowledge and he helps me he sits in our suite. For the first hand. And I always go up telling them I'll ask him something he isn't the answer and a I'm OK with it and then understand -- understand the game. I do understand again allotment -- nine years -- And of course I think that you have a real relationship with the players and I think any time you have a relationship with players. It makes the game even. Oh just because I'm so concerned if they get hurt I -- I want. I wanna Gaudin in the locker room and make sure there I am sending Texas to Greg been -- to -- in -- police talent I would think it about him. Because I don't like when they get hurt even so now. I am very compassionate towards the the players I feel like there are my children. And that I need to take recruit Kara from now one decent life. That's a very good thing -- were all cheering that on as well all healthy. Yes let's go back a little bit too you have again in the in the minds of everyone sort of this fairy tale life and of great wealth. And an -- but also great responsibility. And I don't think people understand the amount of stress. That does exist. It does because week we are concerned about all of the employees stand in and the players and that's for the pelicans and the saints. And we're always concerned about their personalized and making sure that they're okay with everything. And -- Knowing when god gives you a lot then it's a lot of responsibility that you should give a lot so we we try to. Live that way and I think we've we've done that and we're gonna continue to do. You have been. Beyond generous to local hospitals to universities too high schools. To so many many organizations. At some point you do say you know the well won't run drive it would given enough. Well you do but it it seems to be and I are really believe this self belief -- my life even before Tom and I met. You know the more you give the more you receive you never came out to have gone. Beautifully said good things that. But our I think everybody would say. Whether it's Benson tower -- taking over that -- you all as a family have made an enormous. Contribution to the recovery. Of the city again we know with the saints did it it's just our hearts swell but it's. It's all of a sudden the commitment that you all didn't go to San Antonio to to state here and not just days but really jumped him. We know we never were gonna stay in San Antonio we always had planned to come back -- We just needed to get things together because you know when Katrina hit. The military to cope with the training facility yet so we didn't have any place to play a work. So we had to -- in San Antonio that yes actually we played away games the whole time we never did play. In our own stadium because of course it was damaged. But. And you know the Benson tower in the superdome and all the work that we do and it just helps build the community in and keeps the people altogether and we want everybody to be together in a comfortable city and we love our city town and I both grew up PM. And we love it here and this is home so we want to make our home very nice for us and the other people tell us something about Tom we deal. Thomas very shy if you can believe them. He. He's a very quiet person. Most of the time unless he has an opinion about something. When it comes to business he knows what he wants. I've never seen anybody look at a financial statements inning 22 skin -- you if the company is making money and that the man is genius. We've enjoyed a wonderful hour with -- Benson and I have to take the last few minutes and really go down memory lane. Gail and I used to go visit my mother when we -- and I lived in court description was raised here. And Galen on -- go visit her and we were always shopping sales and we would often get dresses alike. -- do you remember the time going to the airport wearing the same -- -- -- shoes and the it's going to visit mother and through the airport a man says oh your twin. Bubble. I'm tall and blond she's petite Internet. We went further down the other person says -- your bridesmaid. -- -- 10 in the morning we're really going to be walking. Up. It just wonderful let me tell you Gail Jensen is the definition of a friend and that's what I said at her wedding. Loyal loyal loyal and has been there for me every moment of the important things in my life -- to. Things in my life and you have been infamy and and done -- -- that is the treasure of at all it is that regardless of how our lives ago. What really matters justice that's -- that's a true friendship. It is and I know I'm I -- every one and continued health to both of you. Do you want Tom to retire one day and posted on a beach absolutely not are you kidding he would trap me crazy he was. He is never going to retire he's thirty tell me that he said never -- he has to go to their office. I mean if he. Is an hour or fifteen minutes late in the morning he just gets all upset I mean we had that late. Game he got up the next morning at 7 o'clock here he had a breakfast meeting -- 830 you are dynamic duo came married well thank you gala -- thank you so let's go to the newsroom and on names.

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