Senator J. Chris Ullo, who championed legislation to spur growth on the West Bank and improve educational opportunities close to home for its residents, died Thursday at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie of congestive heart failure. He was 85. .A lifelong resident of Marrero, Mr. Ullo served 36 years in office before term limits forced him to retire from his 8th District Senate seat in 2008. Throughout his career, he considered crime and education his priorities, and his bills reflected that platform. He sponsored measures to use gambling revenue to finance a statewide computer fingerprint system known as AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) to better track criminal. The AFIS now enables law enforcement officials to identify a person they have arrested or through fingerprints left at the scene of a crime in less than 10 minutes. This system according to federal officials has been recognized as a model for the rest of the nation. In 1999 he was responsible for taking the initiative for the legislation that approved the development and funding of Truancy and Assessment Service Centers. The Truancy and Assessment Service Center is a cooperative endeavor among Jefferson Parish Criminal Justice Agency, Juvenile Court, Public School System, Human Services Authority, District Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office, to combat truancy related problems among grades K-5. In 2001, Senator Ullo was able to expand the TACS program statewide and to include 65% of the targeted students. The latest reports from Jefferson Parish have shown that the program has been very successful and has achieved great results. Currently, there are seventeen centers across the state. He secured funding which created the West Jefferson Levy District for improved flood protection for the West Bank. In addition, Mr. Ullo pushed for the creation of the Jefferson West Higher Education Center, a consortium of the Jefferson Parish School Board, Delgado Community College, Nicholls State University and the University of New Orleans on the campus of John Ehret High School in Marrero. He also backed increased pay for teachers and advocated an expansion of vocational-technical education programs. Senator Ullo created the study task force to investigate the impact of illegal sales of tobacco and tobacco products to minors. He followed up the study resolution with the creation of the Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commission (ACT 1370 of 1997). He was given the Award for Excellence in Youth Tobacco Prevention for this legislation. The National Community Education Association lauded him for the Jefferson West center and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation named him Conservationist of the Year.Mr. Ullo served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and was the senior member of the Senate Finance committee and the Joint Budget Committee. He was honored numerous times for his work. He served as Chairman of The Energy Council, comprised of representatives from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.Other appointments include: Vice Chairman, The Conference of State Legislature Committee, Southern Regional Education Board (Key Delegate), Integrated Criminal Justice Information System Board, Help America Vote Advisory Committee, NFL Stadium Advisory Committee, Crescent City Connection Oversight Authority, Adult Learning Task Force. Mr. Ullo was a graduate of Marrero High School and earned a certificate in mechanical drawing from Tulane
University. In retirement, Mr. Ullo enjoyed working on his farm in Franklinton, riding the tractors and tending the cows, with help, but "he still enjoyed helping people any way he could,'' his son Chris Ullo said. "He never stopped helping people.'' Though he represented most of West Jefferson, from Terrytown to Grand Isle, the Ullo name is familiar to many West Bankers for a reason having nothing to do with politics. Ullo's Hardware, on the West Bank Expressway in Marrero, has been in business for 55 years and is run today by Mr. Ullo's son. The store's goods are mostly hardware, but a portion is devoted to fabrics, the inspiration of his wife, Joyce Ullo, 84. Mr. Ullo was predeceased by his father Mike Ullo and mother Carolina Drago Ullo and is survived by his wife of 63 years Joyce Daigle Ullo. Mr. Ullo was a proud and loving father to his children; son Chris John Ullo and wife Donna, daughters Cynthia Ullo Robbins and husband Robert, Frankie Ullo Boudreaux and husband Dennis, Bernie Ullo Blanchard and husband Rudy. Affectionately called " Pa' " by his grandchildren Shontell Larousse (Chad Prestenbach), Brittani Robbins (Nick St. Pierre), Brandi Ullo, Cristy Biri (Michael Biri), Laci Ullo, Caley Boudreaux, Hanna Blanchard, Jordan Boudreaux, Lance Blanchard, Emma Blanchard and great-grandchildren Zachary Larousse, Caleb Prestenbach, Rivers Prestenbach, Lyhla Prestenbach, Jude St. Pierre, and Rowen Sisung. Mr. Ullo is also survived by his siblings Frank Ullo, Althea Chimento, and Charles Ullo. He will be deeply missed by all. Friends and family are invited to attend Visitation and Funeral Services. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, January 21 from 6:00 pm -11:00 pm in MOTHE FUNERAL HOME, 2100 Westbank Expressway Harvey LA 70058. Visitation will resume on Wednesday January 22 from 9:00 am-11:00 am in Immaculate Conception Church, 4401 Seventh St., Marrero La 70072. Funeral Mass will begin at 11:00 am in Immaculate Conception Church. Mr. Ullo will be put to rest in Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetary, Gretna LA. Donations in his memory can be sent to Children's Hospital, 200 Henry Clay Ave., New Orleans, LA., 70118 or Immaculate Conception Church, 4401 7th Street, Marrero, LA., 70072. Family and friends may view and sign the online guestbook at www.mothefunerals.com.