Leslie Turk

Acadiana loses Republican leader Charlie deGravelles, 95

by Leslie Turk

Well-respected Louisiana Republican leader and oilman Charles C. deGravelles died yesterday at the age of 95. He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Virginia Wheadon deGravelles, who helped him develop a two party system in the state of Louisiana.

“Charlie” deGravelles was a national Republican Committee member and served as state Republican Party chairman from 1968-72. He worked tirelessly to build a two party system in the state (joking at the time that all of the state's Republicans could fit in a phone booth) because he believed that Louisiana would never escape corruption without a solid two-party system.

deGravelles spent countless hours working to elect Republicans to office. He and Virginia were recognized with the George Washington Medal of Honor Freedom Award and were inducted as a couple into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2007. In the early days of building the state's Republican Party, the membership met in the deGravelles living room to pick straws to see who would run for office.

The deGravelles helped form Republican Women’s Clubs and Young Republican organizations throughout the state. Many of those members are now elected officials.