Alumni Profile: Larry Jefferson, Class of 1988

Larry Jefferson

This month we highlight Larry Jefferson as he marks his 20th anniversary of spreading Christmas cheer portraying Santa Claus. He is currently in Bloomington, Minnesota, at Mall of America listening to the wishes of children and adults until Nov. 30. From there he will fly to Chicago to take the stage as Santa Claus in the prestigious "Chicago Museum of Science and Industry” located. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Jefferson formed lifetime friendships during his time at Henderson, from his fraternity brothers to fellow Army Veterans.

Ret. U.S. Army Capt. Larry Jefferson was a member of Henderson’s elite ROTC Program, a commissioned officer and rose through the ranks from PFC to E-7. He retired as an Army captain after 30 years of service. He stays connected to his fraternity as a current and active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Graduate Chapter.

“Santa Larry” is excited about his new-found fame and is giving back to the community in the way of scholarship to HSU.

When did you graduate, and what was your major?

I graduated in August 1988 with a degree in Sociology.

Why did you choose Henderson?

It was the closest college to my hometown of Nashville, Arkansas. I was actually en route to Arkansas Tech and had been in talks with HSU. As we came to the Henderson State University and OBU sign, I said to my parents “I will go to Henderson,” and my parents were thrilled. Little did I know that several of my coaches, teachers, community members and family members had attended Henderson.

Who were your best friends while attending Henderson, and are you still friends with them today?

Oh my! Several friends to list: my famous cheerleader partner, Lisa Dunbar; several fraternity brothers and other friends include Michael Brown, Lee Strong, Glen Ford, Tony Nesbitt, Alvin Turner; Dwight Stuart; Charles Stuart; Don Kennedy; Terry Whitley, Kawana Henry, Sharon Larkins, Kenneth Fells, Kecia Lee Fells and many more.

Who were your favorite professors?

My sociology professor, Gerald Loyd, Dr. Jimmy Jones, Dr. Juanita Sandford, Dr. Joe Wright, Glen Burk, my ROTC instructor Bobby Cowling, and the great counselors: Eula Thomas, Kathy Muse and others.

What is your current occupation?

I am the executive director for Santa's Merry Merry Foundation, a nonprofit helping to provide soles (shoes) to children.

How did Henderson prepare you for your career?

The fraternity/ROTC/Military helped me develop my leadership skills that were within me.

What is your favorite memory of Henderson?

When spring rolled around and the trees would bloom the campus was beautiful; football season; fall semester… All Memories were good.

When is the last time you have been on the Henderson campus?
October 6, 2019, for Alpha Phi Alpha's John H. Johnson's Awards Banquet.

What other job do you think you’d be really good at?

Economic development, director human resources, operations management and Santa Claus.

Why do you think it is so important to give back to your alma mater?

It's important for me to give back to my school and community as a sense of duty to help others. I am funding the Larry Jefferson Scholarship of $1,000 this year to help students see the importance of giving back. Maybe the students receiving the scholarship will give back when they enter the working world.

How do you relax after a hard day?

I feed the reindeer, walk, stretch, enjoy the hot tub, and sleep.

Who do you or did you admire the most, and why?

My parents, Clara Jefferson & Robert Gamble. Although they had less than a high school education, they provided for me the best they knew how, and I am forever grateful. They encouraged me to go to college and join the military.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

Portray Santa and or Mrs. Claus and see the joy & smiles it brings to children and adults.

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

If you get knocked down, you get back up!

What are three interesting facts about you?

1) I’m a Christian.

2) I love the months of November and December because of the Holidays

3) I have changed the world by following my vision and dream to be Santa Claus.

If your life was a book, what would its title be?

I am Good Enough!