Edmund F. Reggie, a longtime Louisiana political power broker who helped bring John F. Kennedy into the limelight, died Tuesday at his home in Lafayette. He was 87. Reggie's family announced his passing via the family archives.
A city judge in Crowley for 25 years, Reggie's influence outweighed his various titles. Along with several other state Democrats, Reggie went against the wishes of Gov. Earl Long to back JFK for Vice President at the 1956 Democratic National Convention. He was also a close friend and confidante of former governor Edwin Edwards.
Reggie was appointed judge in Crowley in 1950 at the age of 24, but his influence began to cement six years later. He was a member of the Louisiana delegation at the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and met Senator John F. Kennedy there. As the state's top pol, Gov. Earl Long led the Louisiana delegation. Uncle Earl was committed to Estes Kefauver for the vice presidential nomination, but Reggie liked what he saw in JFK, and attempted to persuade the delegation to lean toward the rising star from Massachusetts. Eventually, Long left the convention. Seated across from the Mass. delegation on the convention floor, Reggie and Camille Gravel were able to broker support for Kennedy — against Long's wishes.
In 1959, Reggie hosted JFK on the fledgling presidential candidate's visit to the International Rice Festival in Crowley. He later went on to be the state director for Kennedy's ultimately-winning presidential campaign.
Reggie's association with the Kennedys continued long after the 1960 election and the death of JFK, as he also ran Robert F. Kennedy's campaign in the Bayou State. In 1992, Reggie's daughter Vicki married Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Reggie and his wife also maintained a home on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, near the Kennedy compound.
Born to parents who emigrated from Lebanon, Reggie was raised in Crowley. He received his law degree from Tulane University and set up private practice before he was appointed judge. Reggie continued as a judge until 1976, but always maintained involvement in state politics.
He also managed two successful gubernatorial campaigns for John McKeithen in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he led a state board that consolidated the executive branch from more than 350 agencies to 20.
Reggie served in various roles for his friend Edwin Edwards over the years, working for his campaigns and serving in his administrations. He managed Edwards' campaigns in 1980 and 1984, and served as the Silver Zipper's executive counsel and head of transition team.
Like EWE, Reggie was also a convicted felon. In 1993, he served 120 days home confinement on charges of misapplication of funds in connection with the failure of Crowley-based Acadia Savings & Loan. The feds returned a 13-count indictment against him, but 10 of the charges were dropped or dismissed.
Reggie is survived by his wife Doris Boustany Reggie, as well as six children and 11 grandchildren.