Risley “Pappy” Triche, who fought desegregation in New Orleans schools during his early years in the Louisiana House, but softened his views later, died Tuesday at age 84, The Houma Courier reports.
After serving as an alderman and mayor in his hometown of Napoleonville during the 1950s, Triche was elected in 1956 to the state House of Representatives, where he served as a floor leader under governors Jimmie Davis, John McKeithen and Edwin Edwards.
His slogan became known around the region and state, far from his legislative district of Ascension and Assumption parishes: “Stay Happy with Pappy.”
In 1972, he spoke in favor of two bills, both of which passed, aimed at protecting racial minorities from job discrimination. He stood before the House to apologize for his role a decade earlier in passing a long list of overtly racist laws aimed at preserving Louisiana’s system of segregation.
“I know what some of you think,” he told lawmakers. “I know what some of the people outside the halls of this house are going to think — ‘Oh, but listen to that segregationist.’ Isn’t that the guy that offered all the segregationist bills in 1960 and fought the battle to preserve segregation in our public school system?
“The only reply I can make to that, gentlemen, is that yes, that occurred. And at the time in the state of development of the history of our state, we thought that we were correct. And we now find that we were wrong.”
He was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2010.
Triche leaves behind several children, including Judge Jane Margaret Triche-Milazzo, who was appointed as a U.S. district judge in New Orleans by President Barack Obama, and Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin Triche.Lousiana, new orleans, news, politics