A Toiler in the Field: RIP Lloyd Touchette / Updated

Update:Visitation hours for Lloyd will be Wednesday, Feb. 27, 4-7 pm at Spears Funeral Home at 96 Dickinson Ave. in Enosburg Falls. Funeral services will be Thursday, Feb. 28 at 11 a.m., at the Franklin United Church, 5374 Main St., Franklin, VT.

From his full obituary:

For those who wish, contributions in Lloyd’s memory may be made to Enosburgh Ambulance Service, 83 Sampsonville Rd., Enosburg Falls, VT 05450 or the Enosburg Food Shelf, P.O. Box 614, Enosburg Falls, VT 05450.

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Lloyd Touchette, a longtime Democratic activist in Franklin County, died Friday afternoon as the result of injuries from a car accident last Wednesday on Route 105 in Sheldon. He was [66] 65.

I hardly know what to say, even though I’ve had a couple of days to think about him – we had gotten the mistaken word Wednesday late afternoon that he had died, and then the corrected info that he was in intensive care. I didn’t write then because I didn’t want to “jinx” any possibility that he might recover.

Lloyd lends a hand for HabitatLloyd was a longtime member of the Vermont National Guard, a member and eventually chairman of the county Democratic Committee, a longtime member of the VDP State Committee (he served as assistant treasurer for the last several years), a selectboard member in Enosburg, a consistent worker at his hometown food shelf, a strong member of the American Legion and a stalwart worker for the Lions Club. That’s him in the brown teeshirt lending a hand when the County Committee volunteered an afternoon to help with a Habitat house.

Lloyd had a big, booming voice you could hear from three crowded, noisy rooms away. He was a French-Canadian American to the core, greeting anyone with a French-Canadian last name with a hearty call, “Eh, ça va?” He first suggested that I would make a good representative for Franklin County to the Vermont Democratic Committee something like 10 years ago.

He had a kind heart. When Lloyd decided you were a good Democrat, he’d stand with you without fail. Despite resistance from old line conservative Democrats, he backed an effort to get Progressive Cindy Weed to run for the legislature in Enosburg with the Democratic label too. Lloyd recognized that Cindy is bright, communicates well, is known in the community, and that our best shot to unseat the Republican was for both Progressives and Democrats to get behind a single candidate. And while she was unsuccessful the first time, she was elected last year with both the P & D next to her name.

He showed up. I know that sounds mundane, even banal. But my dad, quoting somebody, used to say that 90 percent of life is just showing up. Lloyd came to meetings, worked booths at the fair and Dairy Days, carried banners when he was fit enough, drove mobility impaired legislators in parades, worked the phones during the run-up to elections. And did similar mostly behind-the-scenes yeoman work for many of the organizations he was involved in.

And he didn’t express any negative feelings when I beat him in an election for chair of the Franklin County Democratic Committee – at least not to me. In fact, he stuck around, offered advice, usually in a private phone call and always with a “I don’t want to be stepping on your toes, Madam Chair, but I did want you to know …”

He prided himself on his connections with the upper tier of politicians and officeholders, all of whose campaigns Lloyd had worked on. Patrick Leahy and Peter Welch and Peter Shumlin, among many others, all knew Lloyd’s name, and their campaign staffers knew he was the guy to talk to in Franklin County if they wanted to connect with the traditional Democratic base.

Lloyd was no saint, none of us is. He’d sometimes forward the most awful conservative emails – info straight from Fox News it seemed. He was an old fashioned sexist, although he was just 6 years older than me.

We were, after a fashion, friends as well as colleagues. A County Committee member heard us scoring points off each other with sarcastic jokes and digs before a meeting, and she said, “You two bicker like an old married couple!” Lloyd and I looked at each other in horror at the thought. And then we both laughed. His laugh was as big as his voice, unless he was giggling behind a goofy smile. He did his best to be charming in public situations.

And Lloyd (eventually) accepted me, worked with me, and backed me – even after it became clear I was a unreconstructed lefty liberal lesbian, and a pushy broad besides.

Lloyd also made sure that Democrats turned out for funerals of “our people.” And now we get to do that for him.

I’ll miss him.

9 thoughts on “A Toiler in the Field: RIP Lloyd Touchette / Updated

  1. Lloyd – I will miss you and more importantly,Vermont will miss you! I can’t remember a time when I would run into you, that you didn’t make me or anyone else smile!

    You were one of the kindest and most friendly men I have known!

    May you rest in peace!

  2. met him a couple of times during the campaign but he was warm and welcoming to a newcomer from Chittenden County.

    My condolences to the family and his many friends.

  3. Very sad to hear about Lloyd’s passing. I remember first meeting him when I  started working for the VDP in 2008. From that point on, I saw him at every single Democratic event I attended. If he wasn’t there he had a damn good reason but that was the exception to the rule.

    Lloyd was always positive and helpful at State Committee meetings. He would often ring me with the same “I don’t want to step on your toes but I want you to know” calls. “Dedicated” doesn’t do Lloyd justice.

    He will be missed dearly.  

  4. Received in an email from John and Ginny Burgess (after being frustrated in trying to sign onto GMD):

    We first met Lloyd Touchette in March of 1976  in the kitchen of our mutual mentor, the late John Finn. That day Lloyd signed on as Franklin County Chair of John’s campaign for Congress. That effort failed, but the friendship it produced flourished for 37 years.

    We will regret his absence, but we will rejoice in the memory he created when he was present. He was a loyal friend to our family in good times and bad. Theodor Seuss Geisel best summarizes our thoughts: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~ John & Virginia Burgess


    [W]hen you have chosen your leaders, then … back them, then to go in and work.  … It is work, and some of it is dull work, but you must be ready to go in and work because that is the way that parties win victories at election time. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

  5. I’m sure that, if we actually got down to cases, we’d have had more differences than similarities but he seemed to be content to find ample reason to like me, just because I pitched-in; and in my opinion, that’s a pretty good formula for getting the best out of folks.

    He will definitely be missed.

  6. I met Floyd many years ago and he always seemed to remember me when we would cross paths.  I was not from Franklin County, nor did we always see eye to eye, but he was always friendly and willing offer help if I were to consider running for an office where I would need help in Franklin County.

    It always surprised me that was the case with my being so connected to the P label and his being so involved in “old school” Dem circles.

    He was more interested in the big picture and I think that served all of us well. I know that is something that I need to remember sometimes, and he will always help me remember that.

    It is a shame he died so unexpectedly, its rough when bad things happen to good people.

  7. Lloyd’s booming voice saying “Now Michael” at a meeting or more often “MISTER MCCARTHY!” as a greeting from across the room. Tonight’s meeting of the Franklin County Dems will be a tough one.  

  8. I didn’t know him well, but you could always tell his heart was in the right place, even on topics of disagreement at VDP meetings. What a shame. RIP Lloyd.  

  9. I honestly couldn’t believe the headline when I chanced to read the Free Press online.  I first became acquainted with Lloyd after I joined the American Legion less than a year ago.  He always had a big smile and kind words whenever we met, and I looked forward to getting to know him better.  I will miss him.  

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