John LaPlante

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John Maurice LaPlante, Jr.
Born (1953-01-31)January 31, 1953
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died April 14, 2007(2007-04-14) (aged 54)
Galveston, Texas, USA
Nationality American
Occupation Journalist and columnist for Baton Rouge Morning Advocate; university professor
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Merrill LaPlante
Children David and Anne LaPlante
Parent(s) John LaPlante, Sr., and Ann LaPlante
"If there was something happening that was shaping Louisiana, John was there." -- Buddy Roemer

John Maurice LaPlante, Jr. (January 31, 1953 - April 14, 2007), was a United States political columnist, news bureau director, and college professor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who spent more than three decades covering Louisiana state government and politics. His terminal position, begun in 1998, was the editorship of the six-person Capitol News Bureau for the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. LaPlante's "Political Horizons" column on Sundays particularly secured a large audience and often sparked heated comments from readers and state officials.

LaPlante was the second oldest of ten children born to John, Sr., and Ann LaPlante in New Orleans. He graduated from Mandeville High School in Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish in 1971. Thereafter, he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism, including work for the Daily Reveille newspaper, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. After a stint in Alexandria with The Town Talk newspaper during the late 1970s, he joined the Morning Advocate as a political reporter.

His obituary, based on materials supplied by the LaPlante family to the funeral home, noted that LaPlante "won respect from colleagues and politicians alike for his persistence, writing abilities, and the fairness that he showed in his stories." LaPlante was said to have enjoyed researching government documents and covering press conferences and legislative hearings to provide a first-hand look at issues that affected the daily lives of citizens. His family said that LaPlante was "a friend to the reporters whose work he oversaw. He performed countless acts of kindness for his colleagues . . . "

LaPlante obtained a master's degree in journalism from LSU in December 2001. He taught introductory and advanced courses at LSU thereafter. He was a longtime leader of the Press Club of Baton Rouge and a Boy Scouts leader at St. Aloysius Catholic Church. He directed his church's efforts to support Habitat for Humanity, and he volunteered with the American Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, having distributed food to the downtrodden of New Orleans.

LaPlante died in the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston of injuries sustained in a swimming accident on April 12, 2007, at Galveston Island. While he was in the Gulf of Mexico with his son, David, and daughter, Anne, LaPlante was ensnared between a lateral current and a riptide. Authorities said that he exhausted himself trying to swim away from the currents and was injured by being pushed against sharp jetty rocks. He never regained consciousness, but his children escaped serious injury.

In addition to his parents and his children, LaPlante was survived by his wife, Merrill, nine brothers and sisters, and some three dozen nieces and nephews. Services were held in St. Aloysius church. LaPlante is interred in Resthaven Gardens of Memory, 11817 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge.

Former Louisiana Governor Charles Elson "Buddy" Roemer, III, of Baton Rouge recalled in a statement to the Morning Advocate that LaPlante was a most dedicated journalist: "John was a stickler for the truth. He was passionate about his work, and he was persistent. What I remember about John is the fact he was always there. If there was something happening that was shaping Louisiana, John was there."

(Four days after LaPlante's death, a second Louisiana journalist died. He was 38-year-old Tim Greening, the Shreveport Times humor columnist. Then on May 10, a retired television news anchorman, Ken Case of Monroe, was killed in an automobile accident. On July 8, Mike Dunne, LaPlante's Morning Advocate colleague who specialized in environmental reporting, died of cancer at the age of fifty-eight.)

On February 2, 2008, LaPlante was inducted posthumously into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.