BELLEVILLE - Joseph Touchette, the ex-supervisor of Centreville Township and a fixture in local Democratic politics, died early Tuesday at Memorial Hospital in Bellleville. He was 55.
Touchette died after a battle with cancer, according to friends.
Touchette, a veteran of local political battles, was widely known for his generosity and civic spirit.
"He had a humongous heart," said Peggy Pierce, a Centreville Township trustee. "He was willing to help anybody and everybody."
Pierce said she was "shocked" to hear of Touchette's passing, even though she said she had known of his illness.
"I knew he wasn't doing good, but we (were) all hoping and praying that he'd come through," she said.
Curtis McCall, the current township supervisor and a political adversary of Touchette's, agreed with Pierce's assessment.
"Joe and I were political opponents," McCall said. "But he had a heart of gold. He was a good man. He'll give anybody the shirt off his back if he could help them."
Touchette had served as township supervisor from 1992 to 2005, when he lost a re-election bid to McCall.
Touchette had served on the St. Clair County Board, representing Centreville, and had served the township as assistant supervisor from 1982-1992.
Touchette learned politics from his uncle, the legendary Francis Touchette, who had held the township supervisor position for 45 years. The elder Touchette died in July 1997 at the age of 84.
Joseph Touchette is survived by his wife Carolyn; a daughter, Carrie Lynn Touchette, of Marion; two sons, Gregory Touchette, of Centreville and Byron Joseph Touchette, of Centreville; a grandson; four sisters; and his mother, Rosemary.
Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. today, at Kassly Mortuary, in Fairview Heights. A funeral procession will leave Kassly at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, with a funeral Mass to be held at St. Henry's Catholic Church, in Belleville. Burial will follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Bellleville.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Feb. 7, 2007