More than 300 friends, family, and acquaintances gathered yesterday at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond to remember C. B. Forgotston, Jr., the most genuine political iconoclast in modern Louisiana history.
Hundreds more came for the visitation prior to the services.
He dared to believe that the citizens of Louisiana deserved honest government, and worked tirelessly to that end.
Forgotston died last Sunday at age 70.
Former Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) president Dan Jeneau eulogized Forgotston thus: “He was the bravest man I ever knew. And he paid the price.”
Nephew John Adams spoke of how Forgotston became a surrogate father to him while growing up.
Forgotston’s widow, Ella Joy (E. J.) Adams Forgotston delivered a heart-wrenching account of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and sense of humor. It was a side perhaps not known to many who knew Forgotston only in his public persona of unflinching confrontation to government corruption.
Officiating at the service was Deacon Jerry Martinez, who remarked wryly about a Catholic Priest conducting a funeral service for a Jewish man who was married to an Episcopalian. Forgotston often attended retreats at Manresa, that were led by Martinez.
Scattered throughout the crowd were present and former politicians, many who at one time or another were the target of Forgotston’s barbs. Likely many were there because they were afraid not to be.
C. B. Forgotston, Jr. was a friend and a mentor.
I got to know him over twenty years ago when he said that it wasn’t a good thing for a state with history of political corruption to form an alliance with Organized Gambling, and embrace a behavior that is incompatible with hard work, discipline and thrift.
His prediction proved prophetic. Despite the billions in tax income from slot machines and dice tables, Louisiana seems poorer than it ever was before.
Over the years, we shared many ideas, theories, conversations, and vociferous arguments about the art of self-government.
I learned much more from him than I think he learned from me.
I had no intention of reporting on yesterday’s events in Hammond when another long-time friend and I made plans to attend the service. We simply wanted to pay our respects to our friend and his family.
However, about halfway through the service, I realized that the ceremony was news, because C. B. Forgotston also belonged to the long-suffering Louisiana citizen and taxpayer, as much as he belonged to his family and friends.
He was vox populi, the voice of the people, when members of what Forgotston derisively called the “paid media” failed to do their jobs as watchdogs of government.
So I say goodbye, Don Quixote. Thanks for all you taught me.