Jesse L. Boucher
|Jesse L. Boucher|
Mayor of Springhill, Louisiana
|Preceded by||Charles Emmett "Jack" McConnell|
|Succeeded by||James Allen|
|Born|| January 7, 1912|
Bodcau Community near Springhill, Louisiana
|Died||December 25, 2004|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Eloise Herrington Boucher (married 1940-2004, his death)|
|Children|| Savannah Boucher|
|Occupation||Insurance agent and real estate developer|
Jesse L. Boucher (January 7, 1912 – December 25, 2004) was a north Louisiana insurance agency owner and large-scale real estate developer who served from 1958 to 1962 as the mayor of his native Springhill in northern Webster Parish near the Arkansas boundary.
Boucher was born to Henry Havis Boucher (1882-1952) and the former Mary Ella Dixie" Coyle (1892-1940), in the Bodcau community near Springhill. Boucher attended Shiloh School and graduated in 1931 from Springhill High School, as did all members of his immediate family. On September 11, 1940, he married Mary Eloise Herrington, his surviving widow who was born on November 21, 1923, in Crossett in Ashley County in southern Arkansas. His brother, Augustus Ely Boucher (1924-1940), died of appendicitis at the age of fifteen on the day after Jesse Boucher's 28th birthday. The death caused their mother great grief and depresson, and she committed suicide a month after Eli's passing. Henry Boucher donated the "Boucher Cemetery," now known as the Springhill Cemetery, to the city in her honor. The entire Boucher family is interred there.
As an outstanding football player at the end position for the Springhill Lumberjacks, young Boucher received an athletic scholarship to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, then known as "Louisiana Normal". There he played football, ran track, and was a Golden Gloves boxer, including participation in a conference-winning mile relay race. He was president of both his senior class and the NSU student body.
After he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935, he taught and coached in Webster Parish for three years: first in the Evergreen Community south of Shongaloo, then at Doyline High School in the village of Doyline, and, finally, at Minden High School Minden, the parish seat of government. He was also briefly employed in 1938 by Warner Brothers Pictures as a "ticket counter" before he joined his friend Wilburn Slack in the organization of the Boucher and Slack Insurance Agency in Springhill. Owned by his cousins Drayton Boucher and Allene Boucher, the company was transferred over for his then real estate corporation for a mere $333. Prior to World War II, Boucher served for a few months as a captain in United States Army Air Corps at Clovis, New Mexico. He resigned as captain and returned to the insurance agency. In 1940, at the age of twenty-seven, he polled nearly 40 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against Webster Parish Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Sr. Thereafter, he entered the military from 1940 to 1944 as an officer in the United States Navy with stateside service in Pensacola, Florida.
Business, political, and civic activities
Boucher returned to Springhill to resume his insurance business but soon branched into developing subdivisions and constructing apartments, shopping centers, industrial buildings, schools, and hotels, in both Louisiana and Pine Bluff, Hot Springs and Fordyce, Arkansas. Upon returning to Springhill he realized the lack of rental housing. This prompted him to begin building houses. In 1946, he opened an electric supply company in Springhill, known as B & S Supply, Inc., which by 1975 was a Fortune 500 company. His development projects were in Springhill, Bossier City, Vivian, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, and Natchitoches as well Little Rock and Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
He was elected mayor in 1958 to succeed Charles Emmett McConnell (1923-2000), a lawyer who subsequently made losing races in 1967 and 1971 for the Louisiana House of Representatives. He did not seek reelection as mayor in 1962 and was succeeded by James Allen. Active in civic matters, Boucher was the chairman of the Springhill American Legion post and as president of the Springhill Lions Club, and the Springhill High School Alumni Association, which he formed with his friend Woodrow Turner. He also organized and developed the Lumberjack Festival in Springhill, named for the high school athletic teams. In 1957, he was named head of the Webster Parish United Way of America charity drive.
Boucher was honored repeatedly by his peers in the real estate business by having been selected for the "Who’s Who" and the "National Register" of Real Estate Developers and "Builder of the Year" in 1995–1996. He was inducted into the "Long Purple Line" at Northwestern State University.
Boucher died at 6:30 a.m. Christmas Day 2004 after a three-year struggle with cancer. Services were held on December 28, 2004, at the First United Methodist Church in Springhill. Honorary pallbearers include well-known figures: Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, Louisiana State Senator Robert R. Adley, former State Senator John W. "Jack" Montgomery, then state Representative Jean Doerge, Bossier City Mayor George Dement, former Heisman Trophy winner from Springhill John David Crow, and former U.S. Representative Joe Waggonner of Louisiana's 4th congressional district.
In addition to Ely, his other siblings were Henry Creel Boucher (1913–1992), David G. Boucher (step-brother) of Atlanta, Texas, Lynn Boucher (step-sister); the late Katie Boucher Nelson, and Estelle "Sally" Boucher Slack (1916-1977). He had three daughters, Savannah Boucher of Los Angeles, California, Sherry Boucher of Bossier City, an actress who was the third wife of the actor George Peppard (1928-1994), and Jessica Boucher-Ford and husband Randall L. Ford of Nashville, Tennessee, and two grandchildren, Nathan Kyle Rogers and Chessa Lytle.
Boucher's cousin, Drayton Rogers Boucher, held the Bossier/Webster Parish state senate seat from 1940 to 1952. His brother-in-law, Johnny Herrington, was the Springhill mayor from 1978 to 1986 and again, from 1995 to 2006.
- Jesse L. Boucher obituary, Minden Press-Herald, December 27, 2004, access date= January 16, 2015.
- Jesse L. Boucher. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 10, 2017.
- Billy Hathorn, "The Making of the Sheriff: Haynes, Batton, and Haynes, Two Webster Parish Political Families Compete for Office, 1933 to 1980," North Louisiana History, Vol. 48 (Winter-Spring 2017), pp. 54-55.
- The Boucher Company, Inc.: Profile of Jesse L. Boucher. boucherco.com., access date September 1, 2009.
- "Jesse Boucher heads United Fund", Minden Herald, June 13, 1957, p. 1.
- "Wiley Family of Shongaloo" genealogy: Rootsweb.ancestry.com