Drayton Boucher

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Drayton Rogers Boucher​

Louisiana State Senator for
Bossier and Webster parishes​
In office
1940​ – 1952​
Preceded by Coleman Lindsey
Succeeded by John J. Doles, Sr.

Louisiana State Representative
for Webster Parish​
In office
1936​ – 1940​
Preceded by Eddie Nuton Payne​
Succeeded by James Edwin Bolin, Sr.

Born March 19, 1908​
Springhill, Webster Parish, Louisiana
Died June 3, 1983 (aged 75)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Erma Nickerson Boucher (married 1935–1959, divorced)​

(2) Evelyn Bernice Aydell Coleman Boucher (married 1961–1983, his death)​

Children Gary Robert Boucher​
Alma mater Sul Ross State University​
Occupation Real estate business​man
Religion Southern Baptist

Drayton Rogers Boucher (March 19, 1908 – June 3, 1983) was a state legislator from Webster Parish who was affiliated with the Long political faction of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Boucher served in the state House for a single four-year term from 1936 to 1940,[1] and then three terms in the state Senate from a combination district including Webster and Bossier parishes from 1940 to 1952.

In the state Senate, he succeeded Coleman Lindsey of Minden, who in 1939 became lieutenant governor upon the succession to the governorship of Earl Kemp Long.[2]

Background

​ Boucher (pronounced BUTCHER) was born in Springhill to Robert Riley Boucher (born 1880) and the former Lula K. Rogers (1880–1909). The couple married on November 14, 1905. Boucher’s mother died before she was thirty and when he was less than two years of age, and his father subsequently married the former Carrie Cook. Three children, Drayton Boucher’s half-siblings, Gus, Rupert, and Alleane, later married to Floyd Haynes, were born from his father’s second marriage. Robert Boucher’s father and hence Drayton’s grandfather, Augustus C. Boucher (1850–1890), was a native of Harpersville in Shelby County, Alabama. Augustus’s wife, Drayton Boucher’s paternal grandmother, was Jennie B. Cox (1852–1885).​

Boucher first attended Springhill High Schoo] but graduated in 1927 from a three-member class in a one-room school in Asherton in Dimmit County, midway between Laredo and Eagle Pass in south Texas, where Robert Boucher had temporarily relocated the family to become an onion farmer. Since 1999, Asherton has had no high school; students are bused to the nearby county seat of Carrizo Springs.[3]

Boucher procured a scholarship to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, from which he received in 1932 a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He was thereafter a lifelong promoter of his alma mater and on occasion visited former professors in Alpine.[4]

Political career

After college, Boucher was a United States Army Air Corps cadet for a year at March Field in Riverside, California. From 1934 to 1936, he was a school principal and teacher at a one-room school in Taylor in south Arkansas, an experience which prompted him as a future legislature to advocate higher teacher pay. He also sold patent medicine.

Legislative races

While placing an advertisement in the newspaper in Minden, forerunner of the Minden Press-Herald], Boucher was urged by the editor to run for the Webster Parish seat in the state legislature in the 1935–1936 election cycle. Days later, the legendary Huey Pierce Long, Jr., was dead from an assassin’s bullets, and Boucher, at the age of twenty-eight, several months thereafter won the House seat. He had visited nearly every home in Webster Parish to achieve his relatively narrow victory[4] over the incumbent Eddie Nuton Payne (1873-1951), also of Springhill, 2,778 to 2,474.[5]

In September 1940, freshman state Senator Boucher urged newly-elected anti-Long Governor Sam Houston Jones to call a special legislative session to repeal many of the “reform” measures passed earlier in the year. The remark was carried in newspaper] nationally.[6] In 1946, Boucher proposed in a letter to Governor Jimmie Davis the enactment of a 10 percent amusements tax, including theater tickets, in Louisiana to finance teacher pay increases, a proposal carried in the motion picture trade magazine, BoxOffice.[7]

In 1944, Boucher won his second term by defeating his lone opponent, Arthur Ray Teague (1907-1975) of Bossier City.[8] In 1948, Boucher won his third term by 51 votes, having defeated Clarence D. Wiley of Minden, later the Webster Parish clerk of court, 3,950 to 3,899.[9]

In 1950, Boucher joined State Representative C. W. Thompson of the village of Doyline, to move through the legislature a $175,000 appropriation to establish a vocational school in Webster Parish, one of the pledges of the 1948 Earl Long gubernatorial campaign.[10] Now known as Northwest Louisiana Technical College, the institution was first established adjacent to the Griffith Stadium baseball park on Constable Street in Minden but was relocated in 2013 to a new site off Interstate 20.​

Other political roles

Boucher did not seek a fourth term in 1952 and was succeeded in the state senate by John Jones Doles, Sr. (1895-1970), a banker from Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish, who served from 1952 to 1956 during the administration of Governor Robert F. Kennon of Minden. Doles was usually allied with the Long faction. From 1956 to 1960, Boucher was a member of the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee. He was an alternate delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which nominated Adlai Stevenson of Illinois and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, the first Democratic ticket since 1876 to lose Louisiana's then ten electoral votes to a Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower.[11] Boucher served on the Louisiana State Mineral Board (1956–1958), the Louisiana Commission on Aging (1958), Louisiana Insurance Rating Board (1959–1960), and the Louisiana Contractors’ Licensing Board (1960–1963).[12]

Boucher was personally and politically close to Governor Earl Long, who sometimes visited in the Boucher home in Springhill. In 1958, Long appointed Boucher to fill the newly established position of director of the state Board of Registration. The title was changed thereafter to “custodian of voting machines.”[12] The duties of elections administration were removed by the legislature at Long’s insistence to a separate department from the office of then anti-Long Secretary of State Wade Omer Martin, Jr. (1911-1990). After a year, Long replaced Boucher in the position with Douglas Fowler, a local politician from Coushatta in Red River Parish.[13] Years later, another Louisiana secretary of state, Al Ater of Ferriday in Concordia Parish, reversed the process begun by Boucher and returned the elections duties back to the secretary of state's office after the separate elections department was abolished.

Long named Douglas Fowler as the custodian of voting machines because Boucher did not intend to seek the position in the 1959–1960 election cycle. Long, who ran for lieutenant governor that year on an intra-party ticket with former interim Governor James A, Noe of Monroe, wanted one of his appointees to be on the ballot for the first election for custodian of voting machines. Fowler won the post in a Democratic runoff primary and held it until his pending retirement and subsequent death in 1980; Fowler was succeeded by his son, Jerry Fowler. In 1976, the name of the position was changed again to the "elections commissioner," now an appointed position.[14]

In the 1959 Democratic primary when Boucher declined to run for voting machine custodian, he was instead an unsuccessful candidate from Webster Parish for a seat on the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee. He was defeated by a 4-3 margin by the dairyman, Roy Don Hinton, Sr. (1912-2011), of Minden.[15]

Business and civic activities

After his political career, Boucher remained in Baton Rouge and attended the Louisiana State University Law Center though he never procured legal credentials. Instead, he concentrated on Drayton Boucher Real Estate and his Evelyn Corporation, named for his second wife. He was also a partner in Acadian Oil and Gas in Lafayette. Boucher was an active member of the Masonic lodge. As a Shriner, he was active in fundraising for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport. He was an active member of the Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.[12]​ ​

Two marriages

In 1935, Drayton Boucher married the former Erma Nickerson (February 8, 1914 – February 21, 2004), the daughter of Ernest Emery Nickerson (1871-1975) and the former Ada Moore (1894-1982). Boucher divorced his wife, and on September 23, 1961, he wed Evelyn Bernice Aydell Coleman (1931-2013), a native of Walker in East Baton Rouge Parish.[16]

The pair procured a marriage license in Minden from Webster Parish Clerk of Court Clarence D. Wiley, who coincidentally had been Boucher's unsuccessful intra-party opponent in 1948 for the state senate.[17]​ ​

Death at 75

Boucher died after a lengthy illness from colon cancer at the age of seventy-five.[12] In addition to his second wife and son, Boucher was survived by a sister and brother, both in the insurance business, Alleane Haynes O’Neal, since deceased, of Springhill and Gus M. Boucher (1917–2001) of Shreveport, later Mansfield in DeSoto Parish. There was also a granddaughter, Jenelle Boucher (born 1977) of Shongaloo, Louisiana. A second brother, Rupert Boucher of Bossier City and later Baton Rouge, preceded him in death. Services were first held at the Jefferson Baptist Church; a second service under the direction of Bailey Mortuary was held in Springhill, with interment at Springhill Cemetery.[12]

Boucher was a cousin of Jesse L. Boucher an insurance agent who served as mayor of Springhill from 1958 to 1962. Jesse Boucher was the father of three daughters, including actresses Sherry Boucher (born 1945), now a Bossier Parish real estate agent once married to the late George Peppard, and Savannah Smith Boucher, a producer. Gary Boucher is hence a third cousin of the two actresses. Through an aunt, Stella Boucher Jones (1872–1946), Drayton Boucher was a first cousin of Herman "Wimpy" Jones of Minden and Bossier City, who from 1956 to 1960 held the same Bossier-Webster Senate seat that Boucher had earlier represented.

References

  1. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024 (Webster Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on January 29, 2020.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880 - Present (Bossier and Webster parishes). Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on October 2, 2019.
  3. Kenneth H. McKinley. A Case Study of Carrizo Springs Consolidated Independent School District and its role as a partner in the NSF-supported Texas Rural Systemic Initiative. The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University. Retrieved on May 11, 2009; no longer on-line..
  4. 4.0 4.1 Drayton Boucher autobiographical manuscript, 8 pages, held by his late second wife, Evelyn Aydell Boucher of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  5. "Boucher, Garrison, Thomas Nominated: Young Politician Is Victorious in Race for Representative," Minden Herald, March 6, 1936, p. 1.
  6. ”Hot Election Forecast for Louisiana Demo Primary," St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida, September 9, 1940, p. 3.
  7. "Amusement Tax Bill Bobs up in Louisiana," BoxOffice, June 24, 1946, p. 84.
  8. Minden Herald, January 14, 1944, p. 5.
  9. Minden Herald, January 23, 1948.
  10. "Thompson, Boucher Working for Trade School in Webster," Minden Herald, May 26, 1950, p. 1.
  11. The Political Graveyard. Politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved on June 23, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Boucher obituary, The Shreveport Times, June 5, 1983.
  13. Three Custodians in Four Years. Louisiana.gov. Retrieved on June 24, 2009.
  14. Louisiana Secretary of State "Election Mission and History, accessed August 6, 2009; no longer on-line.
  15. "Hinton Wins Seat on State Central Committee," Minden Press, December 7, 1959, p. 1.
  16. Evelyn Adell Boucher. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on October 2, 2019.
  17. Minden Herald, January 23, 1948, p. 1.

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