|John Maurice LaPlante, Jr.|
January 31, 1953|
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
|Died||April 14, 2007
Galveston, Texas, USA
|Resting place||Resthaven Gardens of Memory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|Occupation||Journalist and columnist for The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate; University professor|
|Children||David and Anne LaPlante|
|Parent(s)||John LaPlante, Sr., and Ann LaPlante|
John Maurice LaPlante, Jr. (January 31, 1953 – April 14, 2007), was an American political columnist, news bureau director, and university 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.
If there was something happening that was shaping Louisiana, John was there." -- Buddy Roemer
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 notes 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 and thereafter taught introductory and advanced courses at his alma mater. He was a longtime leader of the Press Club of Baton Rouge and a Boy Scouts of America 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 in Baton Rouge.
Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer 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 The Morning Advocate colleague who specialized in environmental reporting, died of cancer at the age of fifty-eight.