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American-French Genealogical Society

AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame


The American-French Genealogical Society hall of fame annually recognizes individuals of French-Canadian ancestry who have made significant contributions to their community, or who have achieved success in their life’s endeavors. 
French-Canadian Hall of Fame Inductions and Special Achievement Awards are Presented During Annual Awards Event

Class of 2010
1
Raymond H. Bacon Co-Director, Museum of Work and Culture Historian, Retired Woonsocket Educator
2
Napoleon Lajoie* Hall of Fame Baseball Player (*Posthumous)
3
Hon. Aram J. Pothier* Governor, State of Rhode Island 1909-1915 and 1925-1928 (*Posthumous)
4
Rev. Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin Administrator Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community Exeter, Rhode Island

Raymond H Bacon
Raymond H. Bacon
Raymond H. Bacon was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He attended St. Ann Parochial School in the city and later graduated from St. Francis High School in Biddeford, Maine in 1954. He is a veteran of the United States Army and served in Iceland.
After his discharge from the service, Raymond enrolled in Providence College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1962. He was in the American History Fellowship Program at Illinois State University and received his master’s degree in American History. He also holds a MAT in History from Rhode Island College. Bacon began his teaching career at Woonsocket High School that same year and remained there as a history teacher until his retirement in 1992. During those years he was involved in the introduction and teaching of local history. He has also authored and coauthored works dealing with Woonsocket history, including multi-media presentations.
For many years Raymond has been involved with several civic and community activities. He was a member of the Woonsocket Bicentennial Committee and the Woonsocket Centennial Committee. He is a member of the Woonsocket Historic Districts Commission.
In 1989, he was appointed by Woonsocket Mayor Charles C. Baldelli to examine the feasibility of creating a museum in the city. Bacon participated in a series of workshops and seminars about the project and eventually was charged with selecting a designer and creating a story line for the proposed Museum of Work and Culture. Ray was later hired as a consultant to help gather artifacts and material for the exhibits and media productions.
In 1997, Bacon was appointed by the Rhode Island Historical Society as the first manager of the Museum of Work and Culture. He currently shares that position with Anne Conway. Raymond is married to Simone (Bousquet) Bacon. They have four children and eight grandchildren.

Napoleon Lajoie
Napoleon Lajoie*
Napoleon “Larry” Lajoie* was born on September 5, 1875 in Woonsocket, R.I. As a young man he worked in a cotton mill and drove a wagon for City Lumber for $1.50 a day. His baseball career started in Woonsocket when he played for the Globe Stars in the early 1890s. He played his first professional games for a Fall River minor league team in 1896. During that year he won the New England batting title with an average of .429.
After that outstanding season, Lajoie was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies and played with that club until he “jumped” to the new American League Philadelphia Athletics in 1901. It was during that season that Napoleon not only led the league in home runs with 13, but he also set the still-standing American League record batting average of .422. He was the American League batting champion in 1901, 1903, and 1904. Lajoie was so feared as a hitter, that he was the first player to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
In 1902, Lajoie was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he played the majority of his 21 years in professional baseball. During his impressive career Napoleon accumulated a .339 lifetime batting average-hitting .350 or better during ten seasons. As a fielder, he was equally outstanding and no second baseman was his equal. In 1908 Lajoie set an American League record for the most chances accepted by a second baseman in one season --988.
Napoleon was so popular in the early part of the 20th century that his fans voted to change the name of the Cleveland team to the Naps (after Napoleon), before the team was again renamed the Indians. Lajoie's 1901 baseball card is reportedly worth thousands of dollars, and one sports historian has called him the first modern American sports celebrity.
In 1937, when he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, his plaque singled him out as a "great hitter" and the most graceful and effective second baseman of his era."
Napoleon Lajoie died at the age of 83 on February 7, 1959 at Daytona Beach, Florida. He is buried in that community at Cedar Hills Cemetery.
*Posthumous

Aram J. Pothier
Aram J. Pothier*
Aram Jules Pothier* served as Governor of Rhode Island from 1909 to 1915 and again from 1925 until his death on February 7, 1928.
Born and educated in Quebec, Pothier joined his family in Woonsocket in 1872 at the age of 18 and took a job as a grocery store clerk. Three years later he was offered a position at the Woonsocket Institution for Savings. He learned all facets of the banking business and worked his way up from teller to president of the bank in 1913. He held a similar position with the Union Trust Company in Providence.
Pothier began his political career in 1885 as a member of the Woonsocket School Committee. After two terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Pothier was asked by Governor Taft to be the Rhode Island delegate to the Paris Trade Exhibition. Pothier believed that foreign investment was essential to the industrial growth of Woonsocket. During his first trip to Paris, he reportedly met Joseph Guerin. That meeting led to the establishment of the Guerin Spinning Company, the first large scale spinning plant in the city. Guerin also built several other mills in the city. Pothier also met with the Lepoutre family in France. That family opened the Lafayette Worsted Company on Hamlet Avenue in 1899.
Pothier resumed his political career upon his return from Paris. He served several terms as Woonsocket City Auditor. After several unsuccessful bids for Mayor, Pothier was finally elected in 1893. He was the first French Canadian to be elected to that office, and served two terms as mayor before being elected Lt. Governor in 1897.
In 1897, Pothier was again appointed Rhode Island delegate to International Trade Exposition in Paris. There he met his future wife M. Francoise de Charmigny. He also met important French manufacturers which led to the establishment of the huge French Worsted Company on Hamlet Avenue. In all, he is credited with bringing $6,000,000 in foreign investments to Woonsocket.
Pothier was inaugurated as governor in 1909 and was reelected a total of seven times until 1915. He was elected again in 1925 and served until his death.
While governor, Pothier had a profound impact on the state. He reorganized the state’s financial structure, revamped the Port of Providence, and established the Rhode Island State Police.
He lived most of his life at his Pond Street house in Woonsocket, and is buried in the Pothier Mausoleum in Precious Blood Cemetery.
*Posthumous

Rev. Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin
Rev. Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin
Rev. Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin Father Gerard O. Sabourin was born in Woonsocket. The son of Ovila Sabourin and Berthe Cournoyer, he was educated at St Anne School in the city, where he was an altar boy and a member of the parish Boy Scout Troop.
He graduated from Our Lady of Providence Preparatory Seminary in Warwick, and St. Paul Seminary in Ottawa, Canada, where he earned degrees in Philosopy and Theology.
Father Sabourin was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1960. Since his ordination, he has served in pastoral ministry in a number of parishes around the Diocese of Providence, including St. Patrick in Providence, St. Charles in Woonsocket, his home parish of St. Anne in Woonsocket, and St. Bernard Parish in Wickford.
Most notably, he has served for more than 40 years as director of the diocesan apostolate for handicapped persons. In that ministry, Father Sabourin has been a recognized leader in promoting the best possible quality of life for men and women who suffer from a variety of physical and emotional handicaps.
While director from 1971 to 1981, Father Sabourin also served as chaplain to the Ladd School, a now-closed state residential facility for developmentally challenged children and adults. In recent years he has resided and assisted in the direction of a small group home for such individuals. He has also assumed leadership in the diocesan apostolate to the deaf and hearing impaired.
Since 1981, Father Sabourin has been associated with a small parish mission in Exeter that he has been instrumental in developing into the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community. He presently serves as administrator of the community while continuing as director of the apostolate for the handicapped.
In January 2009, Father Sabourin was among ten diocesan priests elevated to the rank of Monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI. The largely honorific title recognizes service and commitment to the Catholic Church. He was recommended as a “chaplain to his Holiness” by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

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 October 19, 2010

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