CARENCRO, La. (AP) — Former Louisiana state Rep. Raymond “La La” Lalonde, a four-term Democratic lawmaker known for his strong support of education, gambling and preserving Cajun culture, has died. He was 82.
Lalonde died on Dec. 30, and funeral services are scheduled for Saturday in the town of Grand Coteau, according to Melancon Funeral Home in Carencro. He passed away about a week after falling and hitting his head, The Advocate reported Wednesday.
Lalonde was born into a French-speaking community, Pacaniere, and as a lawmaker he pushed to keep the language alive in the state.
His love for his home state led him to leave a well-paying job in Texas, The Advocate reported. He, his wife and four children left Dallas, where he worked for Texas Instruments, and moved back to his native Louisiana, where he took a low-paying teaching job.
During his 16 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives, he was known for his support of public education — as well as for his defense of cockfighting, now illegal in the state.
He also backed development of a vocational college system in St. Landry Parish.
“He pushed heavy to get the vo-tech school system up and running in that area,” Randy Haynie, who worked alongside Lalonde as a young lobbyist, told The Advocate. “He wanted to help those who wanted to learn a trade and get to work as soon as possible.”
Visitation at the Melancon Funeral Home is set for Friday evening and Saturday morning. Saturday’s visitation will be followed by Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Grand Coteau.