Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection


Stuart O'Brien

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 054


William “Bill” Rocheleau, Jr. was born in Lewiston, Maine, on May 31, 1925. His parents were both Canadian immigrants, and came to Lewiston to work in the mills. His father eventually became a supervisor at the Bates Mill. Bill left high school early to pursue duty in the Navy, doing underwater demolition. When he returned stateside, he went to Portland Junior College. He then went to the University of Maine at Orono, and graduated in 1951. He returned to the Navy to fight in the Korean War. When he finally left the Navy, he returned to Maine and became interested in law. He initially attended Boston University, but completed his law degree at the University of Maine School of Law. During law school, he owned and operated the Cavalier Inn in Lewiston. Following graduation, he practiced law and became active in politics. He became Corporation Counsel in Lewiston under Mayor Robert Couturier. In 1966, he became Mayor of Lewiston at the height of Model Cities. The Lewiston Central fire station was built while he was in office. He also secured the land for Lewiston High School. After he was Mayor, he led the Lewiston High School building committee. He eventually left public life to practice law in Lewiston.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Lewiston in the 1930s; Rocheleau’s Navy service; his attendance at law school; helping Muskie run for Governor; confrontations with Louis Jalbert; not being supported in the primaries; Robert Couturier; Lewiston politics in the 1960s; running for Mayor; confrontations with Denny Blais; Democratic split in Lewiston; “Ruining” the Democratic party in Lewiston; running for District Attorney; George Call in Lewiston; Mayoral appointments; racial relations in Lewiston; urban renewal money problems; trying to get Federal money redirected to Lewiston; his relationship with Ken Curtis; Ken Curtis’ role in urban renewal; help securing project funds from a New York Secretary; securing the land for Lewiston High School; meeting Ed Muskie; serving for Ken Curtis; Independence in Maine politics; supporting Nixon in 1968; getting silenced by the Democratic Party; his later political career; and Muskie’s contribution to Maine.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.