Frank Fulco

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Frank Russo Fulco, Sr.

Louisiana State Representative
for Caddo Paris
In office
1956–1972
Preceded by Algie D. Brown

Wellborn Jack
Jasper K. Smith

Succeeded by Single-member district:
Arthur W. "Art" Sour, Jr.

Caddo Parish Police Jury (later Caddo Parish Commission)
In office
1936–1940

Born August 26, 1908
Paincourtville

Assumption Parish, Louisiana, USA

Died August 20, 1999 (aged 80)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Josie Tritico Fulco (married 1934-1999, his death)
Children Frank R. Fulco, II

Michael J. Fulco]

Occupation Newspaper publisher
Religion Roman Catholic]

Frank Russo Fulco, Sr. (August 26, 1908  – August 20, 1999), was a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Shreveport, with service from 1956 to 1972.[1] He was a part of the Long political faction and had once been a member of Long's popular "Share Our Wealth Club."

Fulco was a former member of the influential Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee. "He had been in politics nearly all his life. He did it to help people. He was one of the honest ones, and we're thankful for that," said Frank Fulco, Jr. (born 1937) of Shreveport.[2]

Background

Fulco was born in tiny Paincourtville in Assumption Parish in southLouisiana, to Rosario Fulco and the former Concetta Russo, both natives of Sicily. He was the twelfth of thirteen children. The Fulcos moved to Shreveport in 1909, where Frank was educated in the public schools. He graduated from Clifton Ellis Byrd High School in 1928. He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, at which he was a member of the boxing team. In 1934, Fulco married the former Josie Tritico (1914–2001) of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish in southwestern Louisiana. The marriage lasted until Fulco's death; Josie died two years later.[3]

Fulco was a co-founder of Standard Printing Company, which published community newspapers throughout the state, including the Broadmoor News, which served his own Shreveport neighborhood.[4] Fulco resided at 148 Pennsylvania Street in Broadmoor.[5]

Italian-American causes

Fulco was long active in fraternal and civic organizations, particularly the Progressive Men's Club. He traveled across Louisiana to promote good citizenship among young men of Italian descent. It was on a trip to Lake Charles that Fulco had met Josie. The government of Italy recognized Fulco's efforts with a "Certificate of Appreciation" presented in the chamber of the Louisiana House of Representative in Baton Rouge. In Shreveport, Fulco was the first inductee into the Italian-American Hall of Fame.[4] Son Frank, II, said that his father "did a lot for the Italian people. He lived his whole life doing favors for people."[2]

Political career

In 1936, Fulco was elected for a single four-year term to the Caddo Parish Police Jury, renamed in 1984 as the Caddo Parish Commission, the governing board of the parish. Fulco, at twenty-seven, was the youngest member of the body. One of his colleagues, Earl Williamson, of Vivian in north Caddo Parish would serve on the board for some forty years. Like Fulco, Williamson was alled with the Long faction.

Fulco's legislative tenure coincided with the administrations of Governors Earl Kemp Long, Jimmie Davis, and John J. McKeithen. Elected in 1956 and 1960, Fulco won his third term as part of a Caddo Parish five-member at-large delegation in the general election held on March 3, 1964. Fulco finished fourth among the five winners. Two Republicans, Morley Hudson and Taylor Walters O'Hearn (1907-1997), led the field, followed by Democrats Algie D. Brown, Fulco, and future state senator and later four-term U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. Eliminated was the sixth-place candidate, veteran Representative Wellborn Jack, a Shreveport attorney. Fulco jokingly declared that "the elephant trampled us" but predicted that he could work well with both Hudson and O'Hearn despite their different parties. The Hudson and O'Hearn victories were attributed that year in part to the coattails of GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlton Lyons of Shreveport.[6][7]

Fulco regarded himself as a special legislative ally of fire fighters, educators, and police officers. During his tenure, he authored or co-authored bills which were instrumental in establishing Louisiana State University in Shreveport, the historically black Southern University at Shreveport, and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport. He pushed for the creation of LSU for many years before it was finally authorized by the legislature in 1966 and opened in 1967. Then LSUS Chancellor Vincent Marasla termed Fulco "an outstanding community servant who loved Shreveport and the people of Shreveport."[2]

In 1966, Fulco introduced legislation to extend homestead exemptions to veterans of the Vietnam War and the Cold War. He worked to build a school for the mentally retarded in northwestern Louisiana, to license out-of-state salespeople operating within Louisiana, and to eliminate the double sales tax paid by out-of-state residents who relocate to Louisiana and must relicense their vehicles. [8]

Early in 1969, Governor John McKeithen replaced Fulco on the House Budget Committee with freshman Representative Lonnie Odell Aulds (1925-1984), also of Shreveport. The matter sparked divisiveness in the Caddo Parish delegation, but McKeithen tried to smooth over the hard feelings with self-deprecating humor in an engagement in Shreveport in mid-February 1969.[9]

Losing to Art Sour

Fulco was defeated for a fifth term in 1972, in the newly-drawn single-member District 6 seat, by the strongly conservative Republican Arthur W. Sour, Jr. (1924-2000), of Shreveport. Sour received 5,564 votes (53.2 percent) to Fulco's 4,886 (46.8 percent).[10] Fulco and Sour were both Catholics and both Byrd High School graduates.

In the campaign, Fulco seemed to ignore Sour's candidacy because the Republican had lost House races in 1964 and 1968. Reports surfaced that Fulco was instead attempting to line up commitments to become the new House Speaker, but he instead lost his seat in an unusually strong Republican year in Caddo Parish. Sour had benefited from the election popularity of GOP gubernatorial nominee David C. Treen, who carried Shreveport in his first race for governor. The speaker's position instead went to Fulco's fellow Democrat, E. L. "Bubba" Henry, then of Jonesboro in Jackson Parish in north Louisiana, a 1979 gubernatorial candidate and later a long-term resident of Baton Rouge. The position had opened after the Democratic primary runoff in which incumbent John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville in Claiborne Parish was unseated by the businesswoman Louise Brazzel Johnson (1924-2002) of Bernice in Union Parish.[11]

Constitutional convention

After his legislative defeat, Fulco rebounded to win a position as delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in 1973.[4]

The delegates wrote the Louisiana Constitution, which voters approved in 1974. Fulco's colleagues included future U.S. Representative and Governor Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III, then of Bossier City, future U.S. District Judge Tom Stagg of Shreveport, and Robert Pugh, a Shreveport lawyer who advised three governors and wrote much of the section on local and state government in the Constitution. Another delegate was House Speaker E. L. Henry, the man whose position Fulco had informally sought early in the previous year.

Obituary

Fulco died a week before his 91st birthday in a Shreveport hospital. He went into cardiac arrest while he was undergoing kidney dialysis. "He had diabetes, suffered several heart attacks. And two weeks ago, we put him in the hospital. His kidneys were failing," said Frank Fulco, Jr.[2]

Services were held on August 23, 1999, at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Shreveport, with Father Pike Thomas officiating. Interment was at Forest Park Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers included two former legislative colleagues, Algie Brown of Shreveport (Fulco's fellow 1928 Byrd classmate) and L. D. "Buddy" Napper of Ruston, LSUS Chancellor Vincent Marsala, and then Caddo Parish Sheriff Donald E. Hathaway.[4]

In addition to his wife and son Frank, Fulco was survived by a younger son, Michael J. Fulco (born 1953) and his wife, of Monroe in Ouachita Parish; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren,[4] and one brother, Charles R. Fulco (1922–2003) of Shreveport.

References

  1. Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020 (Caddo Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives (May 21, 2019). Retrieved on October 6, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Sammy G. Allen, "Former legislator Frank Fulco, Sr., dies", The Shreveport Times, August 22, 1999.
  3. Frank Fulco, Sr., obituary, Shreveport Times, August 22, 1999.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Frank Fulco, Sr., obituary, Shreveport Times, August 22, 1999.
  5. William McCleary, "The Broadmoor Neighborhood: One of Shreveport's Older Communities", North Louisiana History, Vol. XLII (Winter-Spring 2011), p. 5.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, March 3, 1964.
  7. Shreveport Journal, March 4, 1964, p. 1.
  8. Harry Taylor (May 1966). Legislators support med bonds. Shreveport Journal. Retrieved on October 25, 2014; no longer on-line.
  9. Charlotte Burrows, "McKeithen leaves them 'em Laughing, Gasping," The Shreveport Times, February 18, 1969.
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, February 1, 1972.
  11. The Shreveport Times, February 3, 1972.