Francis C. Grevemberg

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Col. Francis C. Grevemberg died at age 94 on Monday, Nov. 24, 2008. He was born June 4, 1914, to Onita Coulon Jumonville deVilliers Grevemberg and Frank Bartholomew Grevemberg in Biloxi, Miss. He will be remembered as a loving and caring husband and father. Survivors include his wife of 71 years, Dorothy McGuire Grevemberg; identical twin sons, Francis J. "Pete" Grevemberg and wife Melissa Coleman and Carroll S. Grevemberg and wife Alice Henderson; two grandchildren, David C. Grevemberg and wife Nanami King, of Bonn, Germany, and Elisa Grevemberg, of Rheams, France; and two great-grandchildren, Aidan and Audrey Grevemberg, both of Bonn. Col. Grevemberg became the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police on May 13, 1952. Six days later, he ordered all illegal gambling shut down in the state. It had been operating for more than 100 years due to the bribing of public officials and police. Grevemberg defied bribe offers, political pressure and death threats to conduct more than 1.000 lightning raids that shut down most of the illegal gambling. Most of the gamblers sought unemployment compensation, then moved to Nevada. He even destroyed 8,229 slot machines. In his last interview when state officials were considering legalizing gambling, he stated, "I think that if they want gambling it must be legal. However, legal or illegal gambling corrupts public officials, especially police. It's a breeding ground for other kinds of vice. I think it would hurt our state immeasurably. The state has gone down the drain for the umpteenth time in my lifetime. I just think it's pathetic!" During Grevemberg's short two-year and 10-month tenure, he and his troopers clamped down and almost eliminated narcotics being sold on the streets, smashed an eight-state white slavery ring and turned a rag-tag sloppy highway patrol into the premier state police in the United States. Sen. Estes Kefauver, chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, said the following about Col. Grevemberg, "From being one of the most discouraging states, Louisiana has become one of the most encouraging. And much of the remarkable improvement is attributed to this one man." Grevemberg was a much decorated World War II veteran. During his 28 months of combat in the European Theater of Operations, he made five amphibious landings and participated in nine combat campaigns. He went overseas as a captain commanding an anti-aircraft artillery battery in the 1st Infantry Division. He received a combat promotion from Gen. George S. Patton to the rank of major in Tunisia, North Africa, and five months later, at 29 years old, during the Anzio beachhead campaign, he received another combat promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel from Gen. Omar N. Bradley. In 1951, Grevemberg was promoted to colonel and became the group commander of the 204th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group of the Louisiana Army National Guard. He returned to active duty during the Berlin Wall crisis in 1960. His previous command was changed to the 204th Transportation (Truck) Battalion of the Louisiana Army National Guard temporally stationed at Fort Eustis, Va. During his time in the military, he received many commendations and citations. Among those were the Soldier's Medal for heroism, the Legion of Merit with combat star for outstanding performance during the invasion at Anzio, Italy, the Croix de Guerre with silver gilt star awarded by the French government for exceptional war services rendered (in cooperation with French troops) in the course of the operation for liberation of France, the Army Commendation Medal, the Military Valor Cross given in the Italian campaign in distinguishing himself by valor and a splendid spirit of self-sacrifice, the European-African Middle Eastern Medal with nine bronze campaign stars, and a silver arrowhead signifying participation in five amphibious landings against the enemy. After his State Police tenure and running unsuccessfully for governor in 1955 and 1960, he opened his own real estate company and was elected president of the Baton Rouge Board of Realtors in 1960 and 1961. In 1961, he received the Realtor of The Year Award in Baton Rouge. After returning from military active duty in August 1962, he started a new insurance company, selling private mortgage insurance. United Guaranty Residential Insurance Co. became one of the major mortgage guarantee insurance companies in the United States. He received the Patrick Henry Award for outstanding patriotism from the national headquarters of the Military Order of The World Wars, and both the Gold and Silver Good Citizenship Medals from the Sons of The American Revolution. He was a member of American Legion Post 23 and the New Orleans Chapter of the Military Order of The World Wars. The family requests donations to the Louisiana Troopers' Charities, 8120 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Funeral services will be private. Francis will be inurned at a later date in the family tomb in St. Martinville.
Published in TheAdvocate.com on Nov. 27, 2008