Today June 23, 2019 marked the opening of the 49th Annual Celebration Lowell Franco-American Week. Founded in 1970, the celebration emphasizes the Franco-American contributions to the City of Lowell. A variety of events from the City Hall flag raising and traditional dancing to a supper, family Bingo and a Soiree Franco-Americaine highlight the culture of this ethnic group. Created in 1975 as part of the week, the Franco-American of the Year award honors a deserving citizen of Greater-Lowell who demonstrates integrity, high moral standards and dedication to fostering Franco-American culture, heritage and the French language.
I was pleased to be invited to today’s opening Mass and breakfast held at St. Marguerite d’ Youville Parish in Dracut – where my good friend, colleague, former student from Lowell High days and fellow community and political activist ~ Curtis J. LeMay ~ was announced as the honoree for 2019. The announcement was greeted enthusiastically by a crowd that included his father – Armand W. LeMay who was the first recipient in 1975. Armand was a founding member of the committee and Curtis joined the committee as its youngest member in the 1980s and served as President in 1995.
Curtis was presented with a plaque recognizing the honor with contains an image of the Franco-American bell monument located in front of Lowell City Hall. The bell was an old Lowell school bell procured by his Dad for a dollar and Curtis himself helped install it. It was the first in a long series of ethnic monuments in the City Hall area.
Excerpts from the letter nominating Curtis J. LeMay as Franco-American of the Year:
My recommendation is for Curtis LeMay. You all know of Curtis’ many accomplishments in our organization as well as for City of Lowell… it is a good time to refresh our memory
Curtis has been instrumental in many facets of the organization besides his work in the City of Lowell as a City Councilor for many years. We are very fortunate to have a Frenchman represent us in civic affairs. Our Flag Day at City Hall each year has been a success due to all the unseen background work of Curtis LeMay. He sees to the entire organizational needs for that event… very successful and has been his pride and joy to see its success.
Curtis has also helped in the installation of the Franco-American bell in front of City Hall… proud to have my picture taken next to that bell… others have mentioned they were honored and proud that their French heritage was so honored at City Hall.
Curtis continues to be an active presence in many events in the city for the French as well as other ethnic groups… we are privileged to have him take time from his busy schedule. We must remember that the monument in memory of our veterans near the canal… is also a Curtis masterpiece… how many meetings did he attend to see to that monument? His influence was surely an asset … so that it would remain in view for our Franco-American veterans…
He has surely proven and continues to be a member proud of his heritage.
Curtis – retired from the Middlesex Corrections Department and who now serves on the Greater Lowell Technical High School committee as a member and Chair and also serves as a member of the Mass Democratic State Committee for the First Middlesex District – was moved and proud in his acceptance as he talked about Armand and his beloved late-mother Connie LeMay and of how he and his four brothers were brought up. He noted the many Sisters/nuns in the audience and thanked them for their role and commitment to the schools and hospitals over the years. While bemoaning the faltering of the many social clubs, he reemphasized his commitment to preserve, promote and protect his heritage and culture. Of course, as always at his side, his wife and partner of 40 years – Susan LeMay.
Congratulations to Curtis LeMay – 2019 Franco-American of the Year! Well-deserved.