September 05, 2014
Yvonne Reggie (later Yvonne Reggie LaHood) administers the Oath of Office to her brother, Edmund M. Reggie, after his first election, following his 1950 appointment as Crowley City Judge.
Judge Edmund M. Reggie (L ’49)
Photos courtesy of the Reggie family
Even in a state known for its colorful political figures, Judge Edmund M. Reggie cut a larger-than-life figure. He held a single elected office — 25 years as city judge in Crowley, Louisiana — but with shrewd skill and uncommon insight he counseled presidents, governors and senators, local and state officials, candidates and hopefuls as well.
By not following a directive from Louisiana’s party leader (Gov. Earl Long) at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, Reggie helped catapult then-Sen. John F. Kennedy to widespread attention that was instrumental in his winning the presidency in 1960.
Reggie loved politics. He loved family. And he loved Tulane.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Reggie (L ’49) earned a scholarship to Tulane Law School but also taught undergraduate speech classes to help pay expenses. He died in November 2013 at age 87.
To honor his legacy and his devotion to his alma mater, the Judge Edmund M. Reggie Scholarship Endowed Fund has been established by his family, including Reggie’s wife of 62 years, Doris, and Tulane alumnae daughters Victoria Reggie Kennedy (NC ’76, L ’79) and Alicia Reggie Freysinger (NC ’80, G ’82, L ’85) and her husband, David Freysinger.
“Tulane Law School was important to my husband all of his life,” Doris Reggie said. “His hero and mentor, Judge Denis Canan, was a Tulane Law graduate, and I feel sure that’s why Edmund was inspired to attend Tulane.”
Reggie “made many wonderful friends at law school and stayed in touch with them,” frequently meeting them for lunch in New Orleans, Victoria Kennedy said.
He served on the Board of Tulane in 1983-92, and the law school recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1984.
Reggie’s love of Tulane was infectious, Freysinger said: His six children attended Tulane, and three graduated from the law school, as did one of Reggie’s nephews. In May, granddaughter Mary Doris Reggie received her JD/MBA. Son Gregory Reggie (L '82) is an attorney in Crowley.
"A scholarship afforded Dad the opportunity to go to Tulane Law School, for which he was always grateful,” said Freysinger, an attorney in Houston. “We hope the Judge Edmund M. Reggie Scholarship will help another student. Dad would have loved it, and knowing that makes us all happy.”
Judge Reggie was not long out of law school when Canan (L 1908) died, and the 24-year-old was appointed to the seat in 1950. Reggie promptly, courageously desegregated his courtroom, inviting African Americans sitting at the back to move to open seats in the front – five years before Rosa Parks spurred civil rights transformations by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama.
His sense of justice “led my father to take many other brave stances throughout his life,” Victoria Kennedy said in poignant reflections offered during a memorial service in July.
He had a mischievous sense of humor, loved being surrounded by family and encouraged his children to explore the world.
“My father was a man of great character, with high ideals and determination,” Kennedy said.
Reggie directed the 1960 Kennedy presidential campaign in Louisiana and hosted John and Jackie Kennedy during Crowley’s International Rice Festival. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Reggie to a diplomatic mission to the Middle East that included Lebanon. The Reggie and Kennedy families have remained friends: The Reggies’ daughter Victoria married U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1992 (he died in 2009).
Among Reggie’s many positions in Louisiana government, he was Commissioner of Public Welfare and later chaired the statewide reorganization that consolidated 350 agencies into 20 in the 1970s. He managed successful campaigns for Govs. John McKeithen in the 1960s and Edwin Edwards in the 1980s. Reggie was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2004.
How to Donate
Contributions to the Judge Edmund M. Reggie Scholarship Fund can be made at www.giving.tulane.edu/law. Please specify “Judge Edmund M. Reggie Scholarship Fund.” Checks payable to Tulane Law School and specifying the fund can be sent to the Tulane Law School Development Office, 6329 Freret St., New Orleans, LA 70118. Gifts can be made by phone at 504-865-5909.