John Faucher, a native of New London (Dublin), is the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal.
He has covered the parade for years as a Press-Star news reporter. Even as a young lad of 11, Faucher recalls the excitement of the green parade.
Faucher grew up, and earned a communications degree at UW-Steven’s Point. Returning to New London, he was hired by Press-Star newspaper publisher Bill Melendez. Seventeen years later, he still darts in and out of nearly every business, school, and city building. Faucher’s passion to share stories about his hometown lay in the newspaper archives.
New London is in Faucher’s blood, and the Wolf River runs through it. Faucher and wife Annie own Johnny’s Little Shoppe of Bait on County Trunk X at Riverside Park boat landing. Faucher bought the business after long-time friend Don Cashmore passed away. Faucher worked on and off at the bait shop from the time he was 15 years old. Faucher said that owning the bait shop is like working as an unpaid social analyst.
Faucher is civic-minded, spending off time to create community events along the river, such as the River Rat Challenge. He has membership in fish and hunting clubs, volunteering to help out with fundraising and special projects like the Sturgeon Trail on County X. He is serving his 10th year on the New London School Board.
“When Judy McDaniel called to inform me that I was selected as Grand Marshal, I was surprised that the Shamrock Club of New Dublin considered me for the role,” Faucher said. “I got a kick out of that. I asked her why would they want a sawed-off French Canadian as Grand Marshal?'”
With sincerity in her voice, Judy answered, “Because you’re Lil’ Mr. New London.”
McDaniel said that the club voted for John because he has been such an asset to the parade by covering it so well, and on the fact that John loves his hometown.
“He knows everything about the river and he writes about it and the history of the town,” McDaniel said. “I love to read his articles in our paper.”
After that conversation with McDaniel, Faucher contacted family members and started asking about the Faucher family history. He called Uncle Dave and Aunt Lynn Faucher.
“They cared for my Grandpa Cliff Faucher who passed on Father’s Day last year,” John said. “Grandpa was an exceptional man who could talk to anyone. He treated all people as equal, with a mindset that every individual has something to offer in this life.”
Grandpa had kept a file of the Faucher family history.
His mother, John’s Great Grandmother, was Francis “Todd” (Mears) Faucher. She was the spirit that held the family together.
She was Irish.
Her grandparents, Andrew Mears and Margaret Howard were born in County Clare, Ireland in the years 1816 and 1824. They were married in the late 1840s and like so many Irish of that time, wanted to come to America. They had enough money saved for one passage. Peggy was young, strong, and ambitious. She would go first, earn money to send for her husband.
Peggy sailed on a British Ship that landed in Quebec, Canada. She immediately secured a job as a housemaid for a wealthy French Family. Soon she was able to send for her husband. Following Andrew’s arrival, Peggy was able to bring her brother, John Howard, over.
About 1865 they took up government land for the asking in the Shanahan Valley, also known as the White Mound Lake area. They raised nine children. One of them, John, married Ellen Farrell in 1879 and bought the former Cooney place. There began the Faucher family in New London.
“Growing up in New London, I always felt the Shamrock Club put on a fun parade,” John said. “As a reporter who covers the event year after year, I know that the work is hard, and the rewards come in giving the community a fantastic parade, plus giving whatever is left in their ‘pot of gold’ back to the community.”
“Many of these Irish or non-Irish folks are proud natives of New London. I sincerely believe the characters in a community are what make it special.”