Longtime political mover Lucille Lagasse dies at 90
Lucille Caron Lagasse, a Manchester native who brought organizational and leadership skills to Republican political campaigns, volunteer work and genealogy, died Tuesday at her home, her family said. (See obituary, Page B3).
Lagasse, who was 90, was remembered for her ability to organize Republicans in the state's largest city in the 1970s and '80s. The skill landed her spots in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and U.S. Sen. Louis Wyman.
"She worked hard, she cared about New Hampshire, she was a good Republican," said former Gov. John H. Sununu. He remembered how she organized a small coffee-fueled gathering of potential supporters when he ran for governor in 1982, something invaluable when one is a little-known politician.
"She knew a lot of people. Lucille was very helpful in convincing people to be supportive," Sununu said.
Lagasse's daughter, Paulette Weaver, said her mother was living at her Goffstown home at the time of her death. She attributed her mother's death to heart problems.
A widow for the past 35 years, Lagasse kept an active social life and sang and danced well into her 80s.
"During Friday night, she would wear out every old guy on the dance floor," said her son, Charles Lagasse.
When not doing politics or dancing, she raised a family of five children. She also advocated health and good eating, authoring a book - "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" - that combined recipes with her homespun advice and lyrics from popular music of the post-war era, Charles Lagasse said.
Lagasse said his mother was also proud to work as an aircraft mechanic during World War II.
One of her greatest accomplishments, however, took place in 1973, when she and Roger Lawrence, a St. Anselm College biology professor, founded the American-Canadian Genealogical Society. Located on South Elm Street, the organization contains copious volumes of family, parish and historical records of French-Canadians, Acadian and Franco-American heritage.
Lagasse said it is the largest library of its kind in the world.
"She had that very organizational, leadership kind of character," Weaver said.
She said her mother's volunteer work with many charities allowed her to draw upon connections for political campaigns. Legasse was also a member of an advisory board that worked with William Loeb, the former publisher of the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News.
Lagasse represented Manchester in the New Hampshire House in the 1970s and ran in Republican primary contests for the U.S. House and Senate in the 1970s and 1980s.