Edmund M. Reggie

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Edmund Michael Reggie, Sr.

City Judge for Crowley,
Acadia Parish, Louisiana
In office
1950​ – 1976​
Preceded by Denis T. Canan ​

Born July 19, 1926​
Crowley, Louisiana
Died November 19, 2013 (aged ​87)
Lafayette, Louisiana​
Resting place Woodlawn Mausoleum in Crowley​
Nationality Lebanese-American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Doris Ann Boustany Reggie​
Relations Ted Kennedy (son-in-law)
Charles Boustany (cousin-in-law)​
Children Edmund M. Reggie, Jr.​

Victoria Reggie Kennedy
​ Denis Andrew Reggie
​ Gregory Reggie
​ Alicia Reggie Freysinger
​ Raymond Christopher Reggie​

Alma mater University of Louisiana at Lafayette​

Tulane University Law School​

Occupation Attorney​; Judge
Religion Roman Catholic

Edmund Michael Reggie, Sr. (July 19, 1926 – November 19, 2013), was an American Democratic politician and city judge from Crowley in Acadia Parish in southwestern Louisiana.

Reggie was born in the rice-growing city of Crowley, but in his later years, he resided in Lafayette. He claimed to have been the youngest person ever to have served as a judge in American history. He was the second father-in-law of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was only six years Reggie's junior.​

Background

​ Reggie was of Lebanese descent.[1] In 1946, he received a bachelor's degree from the Southwestern Louisiana Institute in Lafayette, since the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1949, he procured his law degree from the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans.[2]

Reggie was married to the former Doris Ann Boustany (born July 18, 1930), the daughter of businessman Frem F. Boustany, Sr. (1903–1993), and the former Beatrice Joseph (1912–1988). Doris was born in Lafayette and graduated with honors from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.​[3] Beatrice Boustany was a cousin of Amin Gemayel, a former president of Lebanon. Frem F. Boustany, Jr., a brother-in-law of Edmund Reggie, was a physician who died two months before the passing of Beatrice.[4]

Doris Reggie is a second cousin of former U.S. Representative Charles Boustany of Lafayette, a Republican from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. Charles Boustany is a nephew-by-marriage of former Governor Edwin Edwards, a Reggie confidant who also began his long political career in Crowley though Edwards was a native of Marksville in Avoyelles Parish.[5]

A long-term Democratic Party figure, Doris Reggie was a delegate to the national party conventions held between 1976 and 1996. She sat on the platform committees in 1980, 1984, and 1988. She was a member of the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee from 1975 to 1992 and sat on the finance committee from 1977 to 1996. She was amember of the national party finance committee from 1980 to 1992. She was the Democratic national committeewoman for Louisiana from 1984 to 1988. In 1979, she was a member of the Governor's Committee for the International Year of the Child.[3]

Political life

Reggie served as acting judge for the ailing Crowley City Judge Denis T. Canan, who was also Reggie's law partner. When Canan died in 1950, Reggie was appointed by Governor Earl Kemp Long to Canan's seat, a fulfillment of Canan's dying wish. Appointed at the age of twenty-four, Reggie was reputed to be America's youngest judge at that time.[6] Reggie held the city judgeship for twenty-five years until 1976.[7]

At the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, with the Louisiana and Massachusetts state delegations sitting across the aisle from each other, Reggie brokered the delegation's support for U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy for Vice President (on a ticket with Adlai Stevenson, rather than the vice-presidential nominee chosen, Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, the preference of Louisiana Governor Earl Long.[8]​ ​ In the 1960 presidential election, Reggie was a leading Kennedy supporter in Louisiana. In 1959, he invited Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, to attend the International Rice Festival in Crowley as honored guests. This afforded Kennedy the opportunity to address a crowd of 130,000 people.[9] The Kennedys were greeted by enthusiastic crowds — the largest JFK addressed prior to his presidential nomination in July 1960. Working with Reggie in the campaign was the former Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Sidney McCrory of Ascension Parish.[10]

Reggie was nominated as a presidential elector in Louisiana for the Democratic ticket of John F. Kennedy-Lyndon B. Johnson and cast his vote when Kennedy handily prevailed in the statewide popular vote. Other national Democratic electors that year were Louisiana Attorney General Jack P. F. Gremillion, former interim U.S. Senator William C. Feazel, former state Senator Frank Burton Ellis of Covington, and Leon Gary of Houma, later director of the Louisiana Department of Public Works.[11]

Following his inauguration, President Kennedy sent Reggie on a 1961 State Department cultural exchange to the Middle East,[12] where in Lebanon he was given a hero's welcome in his parents' hometown of Ihden.[13] Reggie continued to serve the president as liaison with then Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis from 1961 until the Kennedy Assassination in 1963.[14]

In 1963, Reggie introduced the young political consultant Gus Weill of Lafayette to Louisiana Public Service Commissioner John J. McKeithen, who retained Weill to manage McKeithen's gubernatorial campaign. Weill previously managed the Davis campaign and later wrote a biography of his mentor entitled Your Are My Sunshine,[15]​ also the title of Davis' most memorable song.

In 1968, Judge Reggie spearheaded the Robert F. Kennedy presidential primary campaign in Louisiana. Reggie invited Kennedy to speak at the 1968 International Rice Festival in October of that year, just as Kennedy's brother, John, had done nine years earlier. As history unfolded, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968, four months prior to his planned appearance at the rice festival.​ ​

Later years

In the 1971 Democratic gubernatorial primary to choose a successor to John McKeithen, Reggie supported not his Crowley friend, Edwin Edwards, but former Governor Jimmie Davis, one of the more conservative candidates in the crowded field who was seeking a third nonconsecutive term.. At the time Reggie erroneously considered Edwards unelectable. The decision hampered their relationship, and the two did not speak for three years."[16]

In 1992, his daughter, Victoria, married U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Reggie’s close relationship with son-in-law Ted Kennedy was evidenced occasionally in the press.[17]

In 1993, Reggie was convicted of misapplication of funds (a felony) and was sentenced to 120 days of home confinement and a $30,000 fine.

In 2004, Reggie was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. Son-in-law Edward Kennedy paid a surprise visit to the event.[6]

​In May 2008, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism declared the location where JFK delivered his 1959 International Rice Festival speech in Crowley an area of historical significance and erected an historical marker.​ ​ Judge Reggie died at the age of eighty-seven at his Lafayette home surrounded by his wife and family. Services were held on November 22, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Crowley. Interment followed in Woodlawn Mausoleum in Crowley.[18]

References

  1. 1930 United States Federal Census, Acadia Parish, Louisiana [database online] Provo, UT, provided through Ancestry.com, accessed February 25, 2005.
  2. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 13th Ed., 1973-1974, Marquis Who's Who, Inc., Chicago, 1973
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Louisiana: Reggie, Doris Boustany," Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 792.
  4. "[Beatrice] Boustany service set," Lafayette Daily Advertiser, October 15, 1988, p. 20.
  5. Judge Edmund Reggie laid to rest: Democratic Party insider died Tuesday at 87. The Lafayette Daily Advertiser (November 22, 2013). Retrieved on November 23, 2013; no longer-online..
  6. 6.0 6.1 Edmund Reggie. Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame. Retrieved on September 16, 2019.
  7. "The Rise of Louisiana Boy to Governor's Counsel," The New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 16, 1979.
  8. Jim Bradshaw. Acadiana Diary: Louisiana delegation helped bring JFK to notice. The Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Retrieved on October 28, 2008.
  9. Crowley Rice Festival, 1959
  10. W. C. Abbott, Jr.. "A barefoot boy from Home Villa had a hand in history". thepineywoods.com. Retrieved on May 2, 2013; no longer on-line..
  11. Minden Press, November 7, 1960.
  12. Reggie Called JFK Emissary
  13. Photo of Reggie on shoulders of Lebanese crowd
  14. Schleifstein, Mark. "Reggie a player in politics", The New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 25, 1989, p. A-1. 
  15. Oral Histories: Gus Weill. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on August 21, 2012; no longer on-line..
  16. Leo Honeycutt, Edwin Edwards: Governor of Louisiana, Lisburn Press, 2009, p. 70.
  17. Bella English. "Ted Kennedy. A Life in Politics", The Boston Globe, August 26, 2009. 
  18. Judge Edmund Reggie. Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Retrieved on November 23, 2013.

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