AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci and local lawmakers inducted Normand Angers of Lewiston into Maine’s Franco-American Hall of Fame during a festive ceremony in the State House on Wednesday.
Angers, president of the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society in Lewiston, has helped more than 100 Maine families find their French roots, said state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston.
“He’s been involved in the society for over 20 years as librarian and research director and still opens the genealogy center five days a week,” Rotundo said during the ceremony. “All of us are honored to recognize Mr. Angers in his dedication to Lewiston and to the proud Franco-American history in Maine.”
Angers, 78, said his five daughters, including one who flew in from Kentucky the night before, came to the ceremony.
“It’s the first time in about two years that we’ve gotten together, the whole family,” he said. “I never thought I’d be honored like that. It’s the first time in my life and I really enjoyed it.”
Baldacci said nearly one-third of Mainers claim Franco-American heritage, making it the largest francophone community in the United States.
“The diversity of Maine’s ethnic population is a remarkable asset worthy of respect and honor,” Baldacci said. “As governor, I’m proud that Maine enjoys diverse cultures, traditions and languages for our citizens and pride ourselves in the strength of our state and where they come from. I also want to congratulate the Franco-American community for its many contributions to Maine’s economy and our cultural fabric.
Three other Mainers were honored during the ceremony, which featured dignitaries representing France, Canada and Switzerland. Severin Beliveau of Hallowell and Annette Daigle of Fort Kent were inducted into the the Franco-American Hall of Fame and Jean Dionne of Grand Isle was honored posthumously.
It was the ninth annual Franco-American Day celebrated by the Maine Legislature.