Editor's Note: This article has been updated with an interview with Joe LaPorte's daughter, Kathleen Hoffmeier.
A former Waukesha mayor passed away Sunday just a few days shy of his 92nd birthday.
Joe LaPorte served as mayor from 1978 to 1982. He also was a long-time alderman.
Every Sunday, no matter how busy they were, the LaPorte family would gather around the table for a spaghetti dinner. Italian food was a significant part of the LaPorte family life – Joe and his wife, Marion, owned LaPorte’s Tap.
Those serving with LaPorte on the Waukesha Common Council would often come over for the homemade Italian sausages. Even former Gov. Lee Dreyfus was served by LaPorte, his daughter, Kathleen Hoffmeier recalled.
As an alderman and as mayor, LaPorte worked hard to listen to his constituents, Hoffmeier said.
“His biggest love was his family, no doubt about it, but his second love was the City of Waukesha,” Hoffmeier said. “He fell in love with it and wanted to make a difference. “
Whether it was working as an industrial engineer, owning a restaurant or serving in World War II, as an alderman or mayor, LaPorte would work hard to achieve his dreams.
“He was a risk taker,” Hoffmeier said. “He wasn’t the kind of guy who would say I wish I could do this. He kind of made it happen and took the risk. Not a lot of people would do that.”
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One of LaPorte’s key projects in Waukesha was helping to bring the State of Wisconsin office building to downtown Waukesha near the Fox River.
Mayor Jeff Scrima said he “unfortunately” never had the opportunity to speak with LaPorte.
“Our sympathies go out to his family and we are grateful for his service to the city, specifically in helping bring the state office building to downtown Waukesha,” Scrima said.
As for the long-discussed West Waukesha Bypass route? LaPorte in 1991 advocated for the city to partner with the county in funding the project. The project is just now reaching the final design and planning stages.
“It’s a critical situation for that bypass,” LaPorte told the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1991. “If we are going to have all this growth in Waukesha County, we are going to have to do something about it.”
In addition to help bringing the state office building to downtown Waukesha, LaPorte was active in making mass transit a possibility in Waukesha, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"He always felt he could make a difference," Hoffmeier told Patch. "He wanted to serve the people."