Frances Trosclair dies at 78

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

NATCHEZ — From an early age, Frances Trosclair told her nine children “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all,” and the lesson was not empty words.

She lived her life, both professionally and with family and friends, as someone who cared.

“She was one of the most caring people that ever lived,” her son Peter Trosclair said. “In all her years, I’ve never heard her say anything bad about anyone.”

Trosclair, 78, died Wednesday at her Natchez residence after a battle with cancer. She served the public for more than two decades, as the director of the Natchez Senior Citizens Multipurpose Center and then as the Natchez city clerk.

Regina Charboneau, Trosclair’s daughter, said she learned many lessons from her mother.

“She had such a love of life, of family, of music, of food and really of people,” Charboneau said. “(My siblings and I) are so lucky to have benefited from that. She could always find the best in someone, everyone.”

Former Natchez Mayor Larry “Butch” Brown said Trosclair’s love of people and upfront and honest nature shaped her as a public official.

“Frances was one of the most genuine people,” Brown said. “Everyone knew her and they knew her for what she was and all segments of the community loved and respected her for that.”

Brown said Trosclair was instrumental in shaping the Senior Citizens Center into the service-oriented entity that it is today. In 1977, Trosclair worked with the Area Agency on Aging to write the proposal to form the center, and when the proposal passed, she was named the center’s first director.

She served at the helm until 1992.

“If there is one legacy that has her handprint on it, it is the senior center,” Brown said. “That program reached out and touched all the people in the community. She had a heart for helping people.”

Former City Attorney Walter Brown said Trosclair’s diplomatic and peaceful personality were an asset to the city’s government.

“She had the ability to get along with everyone and at the same time maintain her independence as city clerk,” Walter Brown said. “She was clerk when (Butch Brown) was the mayor and Willie Huff was the police chief, and they were very energetic and enthusiastic people. She managed to keep up with them all the other employees of the city.”

Walter Brown said as much as he respected Trosclair as a co-worker, he remembers her mostly as a friend and dedicated mother.

“First, she was a life long friend of mine; secondly she was a beautiful lady, wife and mother and third she was a great public servant that loved Natchez very much,” Walter Brown said.

During her two terms as city clerk, the city was able to undertake large projects such as the bluff stabilization project and the construction of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. City Engineer David Gardner said it was because of Trosclair’s wise management of city funds that the city was able to fund such projects.

“She was a pleasure to work with because she understood what was a good thing to spend money on and what we shouldn’t spend money on,” Gardner sad. “Then, she took the extra step to let people know why we didn’t need to spend money on certain projects.”

Butch Brown called Trosclair’s money management style “cookie jar accounting” because when new monies became available, Trosclair would open a separate account.

“Everything had a place and she was good at making certain we knew what we did and didn’t have,” he said. “We never had any shortfalls.”

Gardner said it was Trosclair that set up the important capital improvements account that is the city’s primary account for matching grants.

“She had the insight and wisdom to be able to not only set up that account, but attach a millage rate to the account so that it has income,” he said. “If the city didn’t have that account right now, we wouldn’t be able to fund any projects that involved a local match.”

But Gardner said Trosclair wasn’t just a good steward of the city’s money, she was a smiling ambassador of the city.

“She was an excellent city clerk, but she was a good friend to me and a good friend to the city,” he said. “She never met a stranger. She could see anyone on the street and would go and talk to them. If she didn’t know you, she was going to know you.

“I still remember her husband J.P. would just shake his head and say ‘That’s my Frances.’”