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Frenchtown Loses an Elder Statesman

Nov. 26, 2008 — If you wanted something done in Frenchtown, Louis "Quish" Greaux would be there almost before you completed your thought. He was doing just that last Saturday, helping prepare Thanksgiving baskets for the shut-in or elderly in the French community, his last act of sharing and kindness. Greaux, 73, died at his home later that night.
His unexpected death has left the French community in sadness and shock. A founding member of the Frenchtown Civic Organization (FTCO), which distributes the Thanksgiving baskets, Greaux thrived on his role in organization as it celebrated its annual festivities — Bastille Day, the Christmas Tree Lighting, Old Years Night or any other occasion.
Many know Greaux from his decades as partner at Island Marine Supply where, for more than 20 years, he dispensed a quiet humor along with any advice you may need. He retired in 1985 to help his sisters care for his handicapped siblings.
Others may not know Greaux by name, but will recognize him as the familiar figure walking — or actually marching — from Frenchtown to the Legislature and back at daybreak, his posture erect, his Bermuda shorts sharply creased, never too intent to pause for a brief chat or a smile en route.
One of Greaux's most satisfying moments came six years ago when the FTCO finally got official approval from the 24th Legislature to lease the old Olive-Bernier Clinic for the French Heritage Museum. (See "SENATE OKS LEASE FOR FRENCHTOWN MUSEUM.")
Lifelong friend Henry Richardson, Frenchtown Civic Organization president, shared some memories of Greaux this week.
After graduating from Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, Greaux soon became involved in community issues, joining a group of Frenchtown elders, he and his friends formed the FTCO in the mid-1950s to solve community problems, instead of only discussing them in the bars or "by de fence."
Thirty years ago, Greaux married Claudia Fernandez of Santo Domingo, and adopted her son Christian as his own. Caring for his family was a priority.
Greaux helped raise funds for the Frenchtown Community Center, and could be seen cleaning up after any event there, from bingo to gala affairs.
He was a stalwart member of St. Anne's Chapel, where he started as an alter server, usher and choir member, with a voice, Richardson says, "that shook the choir loft like an earthquake." Not limited to the church, Greaux would happily sound out when the spirit moved, at the Jack Shop or the Bar Normandie, especially over the holidays.
Greaux was an active voice in political campaigns, always at the polls for his candidates. In fact, last election day the entire Greaux family was first in line at the polling station.
"To say that Louie will be missed is an understatement," Richardson said. "As the community rallies together to help the Greaux family during their time of grief, we ponder how in this world will we begin to fill the tremendous void left by a man who was never too busy, never too tired and never absent."
Richardson concluded his remarks with humor characteristic of Greaux: "I know Louie must be in heaven. If he's not there, there's no hope for Pete (Ledee) and me."
Services will take place Friday, with the first viewing from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at Davis Funeral Home. The second viewing will take place at 9:15 a.m. at St. Anne's Chapel, with services following at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Western Cemetery No. 1.
Greaux is survived by his wife, Claudia Greaux; son, Christian Louis Greaux; grandchild Frandial Yanell; adopted granddaughter, Rubiely Yanell; brothers, Julian Greaux, Andre Greaux and Edward Greaux; sisters, Julianna Greaux, Henrietta Greaux and Elizabeth Greaux; many nieces and nephews; relatives and the Frenchtown community.
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