On January 12, 1942, Gremillion married the former Doris McDonald (July 13, 1920 -- October 31, 1989). The couple had four sons and a daughter, Jack P.F. Gremillion, Jr. (born 1944), William McDonald Gremillion, Wayne Francis Gremillion (born 1947), Doris H. Gremillion, and Charles Mark Gremillion.
He was a member of the Roman Catholic Church and its Knights of Columbus men's organization, the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Elks Club. Before he became attorney general, he had been a counsel to the state revenue department and an assistant district attorney in East Baton Rouge Parish. He was a short, stoutly-built, balding man with a loud voice and a determined, self-confident demeanor.
As the 1955 primary campaign proceeded, Earl Long began to complain to his associates that Gremillion's constant "speech" on the stump was getting on Long's nerves. The sarcastic Long, as was his forte, belittled Gremillion. Long said that Gremillion did not "know a lawsuit from a jumpsuit" and scoffed: "If you want to hide something from Jack Gremillion, put it in a lawbook!"
In 1960, after he had won his second consecutive Democratic nomination for attorney general, Gremillion faced a Republican challenger, Baton Rouge attorney Nealon Stracener (June 29, 1916-October 26, 1990). Gremillion defeated Stracener, 86.4 to 13.6 percent. Stracener was the first Republican in modern Louisiana history to seek the attorney general's position. No Republican thus far has ever been the Louisiana attorney general.
William J. "Bill" Dodd, who was successfully running for auditor (also called comptroller) in the same primary in which Gremillion was seeking the attorney general's position, recalled how Earl Long who, in Dodd's words, "was a draft dodger in World War I, was sensitive and touchy about candidates who bragged on their war records, and Gremillion, who as a decorated combat veteran . . . bragged about his fine record, using as much as half of his speeches in stories about his war experiences."
Dodd continued: "I knew he had a good war record and that he had received a Purple Heart. He got it from a gunshot wound he received while leaning over to help a fallen infantry man. The bullet or shrapnel hit Gremillion in the belly and traveled down between his legs. Gremillion liked to talk about his Purple Heart, but he never said where he got shot."
Dodd told an unusually large crowd in the village of Montgomery in Grant Parish that "Our hero, Jack Gremillion, was breathing gunpowder and killing Germans. Why he almost got killed himself when an enemy shell plowed into one of his most vital organs; if you don't believe Jack Gremillion earned his Purple Heart, he will show you the scars he has to prove it."
According to Dodd, who could barely contain his humor, Gremillion later told him, "Dodd, I appreciate your bragging on my war record, but don't tell the crowds that I will show them where I got shot. Several of those darn rednecks wanted me to show them my scars and got mad when I refused to pull down my pants."
In 1971, Gremillion was charged with mail fraud, conspiracy, and fraud in the sale of securities in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge in regard to his dealings with the bankrupt Louisiana Loan and Thrift Corp. He was tried and acquitted and decided to seek a fifth term as attorney general. Then he was convicted later in that campaign year on federal perjury charges in a related case. He was sentenced to three years in prison and served fifteen months in the facility at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Governor Edwin Washington Edwards pardoned Gremillion in 1976, and he resumed his law practice. Edwards said that the pardon was required by Louisiana law because all first offenders who completed a sentence were automatically pardoned. He signed the pardon paper to avoid any misunderstanding in Gremillion's case.
Meanwhile, Gremillion was denied a runoff berth for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in the 1971 primary. He was succeeded in the office by his fellow Democrat, then State Senator William J. "Billy" Guste, Jr., of New Orleans. Guste went on to defeat the Republican candidate for attorney general, Thomas E. "Tom" Stagg, Jr., of Shreveport. While Gremillion had been a Kennedy elector, Guste in 1976 was an elector for Democrat Jimmy Carter. Guste continued as attorney general for five terms.
Gremillion's son, Jack Gremillion, Jr., who was an attorney for the Teamsters union, ran into legal troubles of his own. In 1975, Gremillion, Jr., pleaded guilty in Louisiana to a federal charge of conspiring in the obstruction of justice. Three years later, he was convicted in Georgia on a federal mail fraud charge. He was imprisoned in both cases and disbarred. In 2002, while he was the business manager of an automobile dealership in Baton Rouge, Gremillion, Jr., petititoned to regain his right to practice law but ran into opposition from the bar association disciplinary committee.
Jack P.F. Gremillion, Sr., died after a long illness in Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. He and his wife Doris are buried in Greenoaks Memorial Park in Baton Rouge.
William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics, Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishers, 1991
Who's Who in America, 1968
J.W. Peltason, Fifty-Eight Lonely Men
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