Edmund M. Reggie, political operative and confidant of Edwin Edwards and the Kennedys, dies at 87
A former Crowley city judge the source of his longtime honorific he was close to Edwin Edwards and the Kennedy family. His daughter Victoria married Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1992.
Judge Reggie, who was appointed to the judgeship in 1950 and served for 24 years, stumped the state in Earl Long's successful 1955-56 gubernatorial campaign. In 1960, he ran the Louisiana presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, whom Judge Reggie had met and befriended at the 1956 Democratic National Convention.
Judge Reggie also managed Robert F. Kennedy's Louisiana campaign when the New York senator ran for president in 1968, and he advised the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008.
Judge Reggie "never ran for higher office than that of city judge, but he was one of the most knowledgeable of political minds in my lifetime," Edwards said Tuesday. "He was very dedicated and loyal to his friends and could not have been a better friend."
Judge Reggie's interest in politics was apparent early on. In high school, he represented his high school St. Michael's at Pelican Boys State, the American Legion program in which high school students run mock governments at the city, parish and state levels.
He earned an undergraduate degree at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), where he won prizes in oratory and debate, and he received a law degree at Tulane University.
In 1950, shortly after he set up his law practice in Crowley, he was appointed city judge by Gov. Earl K. Long upon the death of Denis Canan, his law partner. Judge Reggie, who sat on the bench for 26 years, said that when he took office, he was the youngest judge in the United States.
One of his first acts after becoming judge was to desegregate seating in his courtroom. He was believed to be among the first Louisiana judges to do so.
Judge Reggie served as president of the Louisiana City Judges Association, the Louisiana Juvenile Judges Association and the Acadia Parish Bar Association.
He also became active in Democratic Party politics. He was elected a delegate to the party's national convention in 1956, where he met John F. Kennedy and backed his unsuccessful attempt to become the party's vice-presidential nominee. That encounter marked the start of a decades-long friendship with the Kennedy family.
In 1959, before Kennedy announced his presidential candidacy, Judge Reggie invited the Massachusetts senator and his wife, Jacqueline, to Crowley's International Rice Festival. The next year, Judge Reggie became Kennedy's Louisiana campaign manager and a presidential elector.
Shortly after Kennedy took office, he sent Judge Reggie as his special envoy to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
At the state level, Judge Reggie held a host of positions, including commissioner of public welfare and chairman of the state Mineral Board. In the 1970s, he was chairman of the state Committee on Reorganization of the Executive Branch of State Government, reducing 356 state agencies to 19.
Judge Reggie also was a trustee of several educational institutions, including Tulane, the Catholic University of America, the Williston Northampton School, Notre Dame Seminary, St. Joseph Seminary College and St. Mary's School for Challenged Children.
He also was active in financial institutions, organizing and leading the Acadia Savings and Loan Association and Louisiana Bank and Trust, both of Crowley. He was chairman of Bossier Bank and Trust in Bossier City, Colonial Bank in New Orleans and City Savings Bank in DeRidder.
After Acadia Savings and Loan collapsed in 1987, Judge Reggie was one of several officers charged with misapplication of funds. He was found guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in home detention; he also was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.
In 2004, Judge Reggie was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said Tuesday: "Our state has lost a tremendous leader with the passing of Judge Edmund Reggie. ... Now is a time to mourn his passing, but also to reflect on his great service to our state and country."
Survivors include his wife, Doris [Boustany] Reggie; four sons, Ed Michael Reggie of New York City and Miami Beach, Denis Reggie of Atlanta, Gregory Reggie of Crowley and Ray Reggie of Mandeville; two daughters; Victoria Reggie Kennedy of Washington and Boston and Alicia Freysinger of Houston; 11 grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A Mass will be said Friday (Nov. 22) at 10 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Church, 224 W. 5th St., Crowley. Visitation will be Thursday (Nov. 21) from 4 to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m., at Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home, 301 N. Ave. F, in Crowley. Burial will be private.
Copyright 2013, NOLA Media Group
From: John Pope, "Edmund M. Reggie, political operative and confidant of Edwin Edwards and the Kennedys, dies at 87," NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, November 19, 2013, http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/11/edmund_reggie_political_operat.html, accessed 12/05/2013. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C.