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AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame


The American-French Genealogical Society during its 25th anniversary in 2003 introduced the AFGS French-Canadian Hall of Fame.
The hall of fame recognizes individuals of French-Canadian ancestry who have made significant contributions to their community, or who have achieved success in their life’s endeavors.  Four individuals inducted in the Class of 2004
French-Canadian Hall of Fame Inductions and Special Achievement Awards were Presented During Annual Gala

Class of 2004
Alphonse F. Auclair, former Rhode Island State Senator, World War II veteran who served in the Marine Corps on Iwo Jima, 25-year veteran of the Woonsocket Police Department, and former Woonsocket business owner.

Bill Belisle, coach of the Mt. St. Charles Academy hockey team. The only high school hockey team in the nation to win 26 consecutive state championships.

Dr. Ulysse Forget, M.D., physician from Warren, R.I. who compiled birth and marriage records for the early French-Canadian parishes in Rhode Island. He will be inducted posthumously.

Sr. Eugena Poulin, RSM, former chair of the French Department at Salve Regina University and author of numerous articles on French-Canadian history and genealogy.


 
Alphonse F. Auclair
Alphonse F. Auclair
Alphonse F. Auclair was born and raised in Woonsocket, R.I. Shortly after World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and fought in the Pacific. where he survived the Battle of Iwo Jima while serving with the 3rd Marine Division.

Al served as a patrolman on the Woonsocket Police Department from 1952 until his retirement in 1977. In 1963, he co-chaired the committee to create the Fraternal Order of Police monument at the intersection of Cumberland Street, Cumberland Hill Road and Hamlet Avenue.

Auclair has been active in veterans affairs throughout his civilian life and is one of the founders of the St. Joseph's Veterans Association in Woonsocket and served as Commander from 1961 to 1962. He co-chaired the committee to erect the veterans monument at St. Joseph's Church in 1961. In 1991, Al organized the 50th Anniversary Remembrance of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served on the committee that erected the Vietnam Memorial Monument in Woonsocket. He also chaired the committee that was instrumental in having Route 99 in Cumberland and Lincoln named the Iwo Jima Memorial Highway.

Al was part of the Operation Recognition Committee that arranged to have high school diplomas awarded to World War II veterans who were not able to complete their secondary education because they left home to serve their country. 

In 1995, Auclair was named Veteran of the Year by the United Veterans Council, and was also named Citizen of the Year by the Woonsocket Kiwanis Club.

Al received the Citizens Service Medal from the City of Woonsocket in 1992 for his efforts in solving the Doreen Picard murder case.

Auclair co-chaired the committee to erect a monument in honor of the late Aram J. Pothier, Rhode Island's first French-Canadian governor. That monument is located at the entrance to the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket.

Alphonse Auclair served in the Rhode Island Senate from 1979 to 1984. He founded Auclair's Home Appliances in 1968 and ran the business successfully until its closing in April 2002.

For his many years of service to his community, the intersection of Elm, Social and East School Streets was named the Alphonse F. Auclair Square on July 14, 1992. The Congress also recognized Al's many civic and charitable efforts by voting to name the Woonsocket Post Office in his honor earlier this year.


Bill Belisle
Bill Belisle
Normand "Bill" Belisle has earned a national reputation as the winningest high school hockey coach in the country. His Mount Saint Charles Academy teams set a national record by winning 26 straight state championships between 1978 and 2003.

Bill was born in Manville and still makes his home there. He attended St. James Parish School and was a member of the Class of 1948 at Mount Saint Charles Academy. While at Mount, Bill played baseball and hockey. In his junior year the hockey team won the state championship. 

Belisle is a veteran of the Korean War attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. He returned to northern Rhode Island and married his wife Yvette and raised four sons. He served his community for more than 20 years as a volunteer fireman.

In 1954, Bill began his coaching career, first with the Manville CYO junior high baseball team, which won the diocesan, state, and New England championships, the first ever for a parochial school. Later he organized the first Little League farm team in Manville.

In 1974, Bill became manager of the Brother Adelard Arena at Mount and one year later began his illustrious career as head coach of the hockey team. In the 29 years since assuming that position, Bill Belisle has become a legend among boys hockey teams in the United States. His record is incredible: 755 wins, 99 losses and 24 ties. That is a .860 winning percentage!

Bill's accomplishments and honors are many. They include 100 consecutive wins in Interscholastic League games and exhibitions, 94 consecutive victories in the Metropolitan "A" Division, 86 consecutive games without a loss in the Interscholastic League games schedule, and rated number 1 high school hockey team in the nation for 10 consecutive years (1979-1989).

Belisle's many honors include R.I. Schoolboy Coach of the Year, he was elected to the R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame, the Woonsocket Heritage Hall of Fame, and received the Cumberland-Lincoln Rotary Club Outstanding Achievement Award. He was the first Rhode Island high school hockey coach to receive the Mariucci Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association. Belisle and his Mount team were featured in a January 1985 Sports Illustrated article, in Rhode Island Monthly magazine in February 1989, and the New England Sports Network rated the 1996 Mount hockey team as the number one team in New England.

Bill Belisle has left a precious heritage of his work with a generation of young student-athletes. He has instilled his players with pride, competitiveness, sportsmanship and fair play. 


Dr. Ulysse Forget, M.D.
Dr. Ulysse Forget, M.D. (Posthumous)
Dr. Ulysse Forget, M.D. was born in St. Gregoire, Iberville County, Quebec. His primary education was done at Bridgham, Quebec and he obtained an AB at the University of Montreal in 1921.

In 1927, after completing an internship at Hotel-Dieu Hospital, he received an MD degree, magna cum laude.

A specialist in eyes, ears, nose and throat, Dr. Forget practiced at the Monson State Hospital in Palmer, Mass. for 10 months before moving to Warren, R.I. in 1928. He was licensed to practice in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and the Province of Quebec. 

Dr. Forget was an assistant-physician at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, served on the staff of St. Anne Hospital and the former Union Hospital, both in Fall River, and taught ophthalmology at the St. Anne Hospital School of Nursing for several years.

Dr. Forget's hobbies were genealogy and history. In 1852, he published the history of St. Jean-Baptiste Church in Warren on the 75th anniversary of the parish. 

Genealogy articles by Dr. Forget were published in the Memoires de la Societie de Genealogie Canadienne-Francaise in Montreal. 

An unpublished genealogy of the Forget family and the Franco-American marriages of Rhode Island and central Massachusetts from 1885 to 1900 are among the holdings of the American-French Genealogical Society in Woonsocket, R.I. and the Genealogical Section of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Dr. Forget was a member of the L'Union Medicale du Canada, the Bristol County Medical Society, the Rhode Island Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the American Association of Surgeons and Physicians and the American Academy of General Practice. In 1950, he was elected president of the Association of Franco-American Physicians of New England.

He was also a life member of the American-French Genealogical Society, the Franco-American Historical Society, the Historical Society of Montreal, and the French-Canadian Genealogical Society.

Dr. Forget died at the age of 87 on October 5, 1985.


Sr. Eugena Poulin, RSM
Sr. Eugena Poulin, RSM
Sister Eugena Poulin, RSM, is a part-time professor of French at Salve Regina University in Newport. Previously, she served five years as chairperson of the Modern Languages Department. She earned her Bachelor of Education Degree at Catholic Teachers College, her Masters Degree in French Literature at Assumption College in Worcester, Certificats Cours Superieur et Perfectionnement at the Institut Catholique in Paris, and a Doctorate in Romance Languages at the University of Florida.

In addition to the twenty years she has served at Salve Regina, Sr. Eugena taught at various elementary and secondary schools throughout Rhode Island.; and also taught adult education for the federal Title I Program, and summer school for disadvantaged children for the City of Newport. 

Sr. Eugena is a member of the American-French Genealogical Society, American Association of Teachers of French, the Alliance Francaise of Newport, and the American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages. She is an active and respected member of the Franco-American community, and was selected the Franco-American of the Year by the Rhode Island Heritage Commission in 1987.

She is has authored many articles for a variety of publications including the AFGS journal, Je Me Souviens. Among the AFGS articles are: Hail the Midwives; Beware the Witches, Women of Seventeenth Century New France, Nuns, Wives, Mothers and Much More: The Contributions of Women to the Economy of New France, and Crime and Seventeenth Century Women in New France. Seventeenth century women in New France have a special fascination for Sr. Poulin, and she is continuing to add to the series of articles on this topic. 

Sr. Poulin was elected to the Executive Board of the French Institute in Worcester in 1998. She was a panelist at the French Institute Colloquium, and the keynote speaker at the 1998 annual meeting of Les Dames Francaises de Nouvelle Angleterre. She has received two Salve Regina Small Grants for research at the National Archives in Quebec. In 2000, she was awarded the Salve Regina University Presidential Grant for Research.

Currently, she is working with Dr. Claire Quintal on the translation and annotation of Gazette Francaise, a newspaper published in Newport in 1780-81. 


The American-French Genealogical Society, founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization devoted to assisting people of French-Canadian ancestry in the research of their family history.

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Updated 18 September 2005

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