Richard E. Zuschlag

March 28, 1948 – June 5, 2024

Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Acadian Chairman & CEO Richard Emery Zuschlag, 76, passed away at 6:03 AM on June 5, 2024, from cancer-related complications. While we mourn our extraordinary loss, we are comforted in knowing that he is no longer suffering. He is now in the loving arms of his Lord, in whom he had unwavering faith.

A native of Greenville, Pennsylvania, Richard graduated from the Capitol Institute of Technology in Washington, DC in 1970. While on assignment for Westinghouse, Richard found himself in the heart of Cajun Country—Lafayette, Louisiana. While there in 1971, Richard joined with two friends, all in their twenties, to form a company to provide ambulance service in the Louisiana parish of Lafayette. Richard accepted the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the company. That company today is a national leader in the field of pre-hospital emergency medical care.     

A pioneer in developing the emergency medical transportation industry, Richard received many awards along with recognition from numerous local, state, and national groups and publications. In 2022, he was honored by the American Ambulance Association with the prestigious J. Walter Schaefer Award, which is given to an individual who has made an impact on the ambulance industry. He was also the recipient of the James O. Page/JEMS Leadership Award; the Pinnacle EMS’ Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Healthcare and Healthcare Services. In 2005, he was named by Inc. magazine as Entrepreneur of the Year for his efforts in coordinating Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. He has also been inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame, named a “Louisiana Legend” by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, honored by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Alumni Association and received the Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award from 232-HELP.

He served as Chairman of the Lafayette Parish Communication District, which governs the operation of the 911 Emergency System. He has also been a member of the board of the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association, the Governor’s Patient Compensation Fund, One Acadiana, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, and the Acadiana Safety Association. Richard was also Chairman of Leadership Lafayette and Leadership Louisiana and was a board member and Regional Vice President of the Council for a Better Louisiana.

In addition to his generous personal and corporate philanthropy, Richard also gave his time and talent to many civic organizations, including service as a member of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors, the LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation, member of the Louisiana State University Dean’s Advisory Council, member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) Foundation and the UL Lafayette Industry Telecommunications Advisory Committee, board member and President of 232-HELP, the Southwest Louisiana Education and Referral Center, member of the Board of Trustees of Ascension Day School, adviser to Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Acadiana, and Publicity Chairman for the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic.

Richard had a burning desire to vigorously participate in fundraising activities for numerous civic and charitable causes. Among the organizations that benefited from his talent and energy are Acadiana’s United Way, the Bishop’s Charity Ball, St. Thomas More High School, Our Lady of Fatima School, St. Pius X Church and School, Ascension Day School, The Academy of Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Acadiana, the Louisiana Open Golf Tournament, and the Evangeline Area Council and Southeast Louisiana Council of Scouting America. 

The awards Richard received during his distinguished career reflect his passion for making an impact on the causes he believed in. Among his many accolades, Richard received the Lafayette Civic Cup; the Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Boy Scouts; the Golden Mike Award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters; the Marketer of the Year Sales & Marketing International of Greater Baton Rouge; and was named Businessman of the Year for the State of Louisiana by Small Business Administration and a Leader in Philanthropy from Community Foundation of Acadiana. He was inducted into the Greenville Area School District Educational Foundation Distinguished Hall of Fame, a special honor from his hometown. He also received the U.S. Senate Innovation Award on behalf of Acadian Ambulance Service. 

Richard was a much loved and admired agent of change, not only in the state of Louisiana but across the nation. The lives he affected through his vision, generosity, inspiration, and leadership are countless. Whether a friend, employee, peer or patient, all of our lives were changed due to his undeniable determination to make a difference. 

His legacy endures through his beautiful family, in every life saved, every patient helped, and in every battle he waged to ensure that all people had access to high-quality medical care. He never backed down when fighting for the things he loved most: his family, his Acadian employees, and the communities they serve.

His legacy also lives on in the company he tirelessly worked 53 years to grow and nurture.  Acadian Companies is not just a successful organization, but also serves as an example of how servant leadership, high integrity and unwavering determination create success, not for one, but for all. 

We will forever be changed, forever be grateful, and forever be better because of who Richard was and the lessons and legacy he has left us. He treated everyone with respect and was constantly striving to bring people together for the greater good. It is up to all of us to honor this legacy by living and leading by his example and his faith. Because of Richard, Acadian is stronger than ever, and in his honor, we will carry on his life’s work. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Emery and Janet Zuschlag. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Elaine Dupuis Zuschlag; his loving children Beth Zuschlag LeBlanc (Ross), Blair Zuschlag (Sara), and Blaise Zuschlag (Monica); adoring grandchildren Annie, Andrew and Audrey LeBlanc (Beth and Ross); Mason Brooks, Ceci and Millie Beth Zuschlag (Blair and Sara); and Rex, Joe Read and Adley Zuschlag (Blaise and Monica); many treasured nieces and nephews; and his beloved Golden Retriever, Sandy.

He is also survived by a sister, Charlotte Zuschlag, and two brothers, John (Pam) Zuschlag,  and Tom Zuschlag as well as his extended Dupuis family.

He is also survived by his entire Acadian family and the communities he so faithfully served.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., with a Rosary recited at 6:00 p.m., and Wednesday, June 12, 2024, from 8:00 a.m. until the service at 10:00 a.m. The visitation and service will be held at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Lafayette.

Pallbearers will be Matthew Touchette, Gilberto Morales, Paul Hamilton, Leighton Guilbeau, Scott Domingue, Justin Back, and Dr. Chuck Burnell.

Honorary Pallbearers will be all past and present members of the Acadian Family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Mr. Richard Zuschlag’s honor be made to Coeurs d’Acadian at 130 E Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, LA 70508.

Funeral Mass and Graveside Service

Slideshow celebrating Richard’s life and legacy

Z’s P’s

Richard lived by a set of ten principles he called “Z’s Ps,” which guided his personal and professional life:

  1. POSITIVE ATTITUDE – a positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances, instead of your circumstances having power over you. 
  2. PERSISTENCE – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Every successful story has numerous failures and setbacks in it….keep trying until you get it right!
  3. PATIENCE – Just because it’s not happening right now, doesn’t mean it never will. The wait is worth it in the end.
  4. PASSION – Do something you love – you will feel more satisfied and less stressed if you do. Passionate people are more motivated towards work.
  5. POLITENESS – Treat the janitor the same as the CEO! Politeness requires you to treat all people as equals. 
  6. PREPARATION – A goal without a plan is just a wish. You have to expect the best, but plan for the worst.
  7. PRIDE – Always do your best so you can take pride in your work. If you can’t stand behind your work, how can you expect others to do so?
  8. PRACTICE – Practice what you preach! To be a good leader, you need to set a good example. 
  9. PROSPERITY – When the fruits of your labor pay off, and you have achieved success, it is important to share and give back to others. 
  10. PRAYER – Often the most overlooked, but the most important of them all. I begin my days with quiet meditation and prayer, remembering that I am ultimately not in control, but rather God is. I thank Him for my blessings AND challenges and ask for His grace to inspire and influence my daily decisions.