Donaldsonville’s Ralph Falsetta remembered with displays at fire station, library

Michael Tortorich

The family of the late Ralph Falsetta gathered at the Donaldsonville Fire Department and Ascension Parish Library on the morning of March 25 to place framed photos in his honor.

The family of the late Ralph Falsetta joined the Donaldsonville Fire Department and Ascension Parish Library to hang photos at the new fire station and the library March 25. Shown from left are: former Fire Chief Chuck Montero, Fire Chief Adam Gautreaux, Councilman Lauthaught Delaney, Rosalyn Griffin, Councilman Michael Sullivan, Ronald Diez, Marilyn “Meme” Diez, former Constable Andrew “Banana” LeBlanc, Judy LeBlanc Falsetta, and Mayor Leroy Sullivan.

The photo shows Falsetta and his wife of 55 years, Solange Simoneaux Falsetta, looking at the Donaldsonville Fire Department's engine, named the First Lady Solange.

Falsetta had a storied career as a public servant. He was a U.S. Army veteran and a member of Babin-Haynes American Legion Post 98. The owner of Ralph’s Amusements, his career spanned four decades.

Falsetta served on the Ascension Parish Levee Board, and on the parish police jury for 24 years. He was a state senator from 1978 to 1980. He served on the Lafourche Basin Levee District Board of Commissioners, the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the parish Library Board, and as an administrator of the parish Head Start program. Falsetta also served as mayor of Donaldsonville, beginning in 1981.

Margo Griffin Martinez, one of his granddaughters, said “he was one of a kind.”

“He would give the shirt off his back and help anybody. He never asked for anything in return. He never asked for recognition,” she said.

Falsetta was the son of Italian immigrants. His parents were Anthony Falsetta and Rosa Regira Falsetta, who owned a bakery shop.

Marilyn “Meme” Diez and Rosalyn Griffin, daughters of the late Ralph Falsetta, place a photo in his honor at the Ascension Parish Library in Donaldsonville.

As Martinez recalled, Ralph would be sent out for deliveries, but would often end up giving the bread away.

He had two daughters and a son: Rosalyn, Marilyn, and Raphael. Both Rosalyn and Marilyn were on hand to celebrate the placement of the photos. The late Raphael was represented by his wife, Judy LeBlanc Falsetta.

Ralph Falsetta had 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Former longtime Constable Andrew “Banana” LeBlanc was his great-nephew. He was proud to attend the brief ceremonies to commemorate Falsetta’s service.

 “He was really close to him,” Martinez said.

The Falsetta family lived next to Donaldsonville City Hall at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Charles Street. Martinez said their original house burned in the early 1960s.

 “They built it back from the ground up,” she remembered.

Another fond memory of Ralph was his reputation as a prankster.

 “He was always playing a joke on somebody,” Martinez recalled.

She said he was known to ride around the area with dark glasses and a cigar.

 “‘How sweet it is’ was his little saying,” Martinez said. “It was his political slogan, and everyone remembers that. ‘How sweet it is.’”