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Published: Monday, 1/16/2006

Housing official set up Irish-American festivals

Colleen LaPlante, a program supervisor at the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority who was among the early organizers of Toledo s Irish-American Festival, died Thursday. She was being treated for liver failure at St. Luke s Hospital. She was 60.

Ms. LaPlante worked 26 years as a program supervisor for LMHA, retiring in 2003. She inspected housing units for the agency, then supervised staff who performed the task.

After her workday was done, she devoted some of her time as an activities volunteer at Flory Gardens, one of the agency s housing sites. There she improved the ceramics program for residents, obtaining a kiln so they didn t have to send their projects out to be fired.

Kathy Horrigan said her sister enjoyed life despite diabetes.

She had health issues most of her life, but she didn t let anything stop her, her sister said.

In the mid 1980s, Ms. La-Plante became interested in her Irish heritage after listening to the performances of John Connolly, a local Irish musician. Her grandmother on her father s side was an Irish immigrant.

Ms. LaPlante, Mr. Connolly, and Phil Eaton helped organize Irish-American festivals that were hosted in Rossford and later Lourdes College. Ms. LaPlante served as the first secretary of the Toledo Irish-American Club.

The festivals later were moved to International Park.

All three worked very closely together, Patrick LaPlante, her son, said. She would do everything from getting the vendors to setting up the music. She baked soda bread and other items to help with the club.

A member of the Toledo Shamrock Club, she also helped with arrangements to bring Irish musicians here for the festival and handled publicity for the event.

She was a campaign worker for former mayor John McHugh and Sheriff Jim Telb.

Several years ago, she became a volunteer at Hospice of Northwest Ohio, helping people with incurable illnesses still well enough to travel to run errands and shop.

She got involved after getting upset there were so many people in hospice that nobody came to see, Lisa Krasniewski, her daughter, said.

A 1963 graduate of Central Catholic High School, she was a member of St. Patrick Historic Church.

Surviving are her sons, Patrick and Sean; daughter, Lisa Krasniewski; brother, Kevin Horrigan; sisters, Janice Rokicki, Karen Canfield, and Kathy Horrigan, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Patrick Historic Church. The body will be at Coyle Funeral Home after 2 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.



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