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gayle benson Owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans Even despite the heartbreaking missed call in the championship game, the Saints had an incredible season last year. What has been the most touching display of support you’ve seen from fans and the city? Last year was filled with many different challenges and obstacles, but none greater than losing my husband Tom. I continue to be grateful for the overwhelming love and prayers I continue to receive from our fans. Their passion, support and love for the Saints and Pelicans have been the driving force behind our success. Before you married Tom Benson, you had an interior design and real estate business and were involved in several historic renovation projects, including the 1850 Walker House on St. Charles Avenue. Are there lessons you learned from those businesses that you use today with the Saints and Pelicans? In business, it is all about people. It makes no difference what industry you are in- volved with; the people make the biggest difference. From employees to owners, it matters how you treat everyone. So much of what I learned throughout the years is what has brought me here today. I have learned the value of experience and experience leads to confidence, and confidence brings success that much closer. You recently sponsored the renovation of historic buildings at Notre Dame Seminary on Carrollton Avenue. What was involved with that project? I was only involved in the funding of the project. The diocese deserves all the credit for doing an incredible job of restoring the beautiful buildings destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The upgraded facilities now stand as a guiding light to help spread the Lord’s message and both seminaries now have the best technol- ogy and facilities that are required in the 21st century. In honor of the New Orleans Tricentennial, the Gayle and Tom Benson Charita- ble Foundation — as well as the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Mer- aux Foundation — sponsored 45 black and gold historic markers to be placed at sites around the city. Each marker has a QR code that can be scanned to pull up a WYES-TV video about that site’s history. What attracted you to that project? That was an incredible opportunity to work with so many talented people and organizations. It was a way to honor our city’s rich history and allow both locals and tourists to get unique insights into what makes New Orleans so special. My husband and I have always loved bragging about New Orleans, and this opportunity was a great way to do that during our Tricentennial. This also was a great way to incorporate technology to showcase New Orleans’ 300-year his- tory. The markers are placed in various locations around the city, including Jackson Square, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, Antoine’s and the Cabilido. Our goal was to help educate the residents of New Orleans as well as tourists that visit these magnificent sites around the city. (To see a list of locations, visit nola300. Why is historic preservation so important in New Orleans? It is our heritage. I want to ensure that generations of families are able to understand and see the great complexity of our city and understand its culture. New Orleans meant the world to my husband, Tom, and he had great pride in where he came from. New Orleans is a unique place and is unlike any city in the world. My goal is to have longtime residents and tourists enjoy the aesthetics of New Orleans. It is a very special and iconic city; it is our responsibility to care for it so everyone, locals and tourists alike, can enjoy and embrace it for generations to come. @Saints @PelicansNBA MARCH 2019 • PRESERVATION IN PRINT   39