From 35-year nurse to politician, Vice Mayor LaMarche retires

A Patient Care coordinator at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., Dot LaMarche came to Farragut in 1994 having served as a nurse for 35 years.

“When I came here I wanted to continue in nursing,” she said.

Unable to find work suitable for her talents and interests, “I came home one day and I was very sad, and I told Lou [LaMarche, husband] … ‘I’m going to retire and I’m going to volunteer and I’m going to work in my neighborhood [Sugarwood subdivision],” said LaMarche, town of Farragut Vice Mayor and an alderman for 13 years — in addition to prominent national and state service — who retired this week after not seeking re-election earlier this month. “I became president of our homeowners association.”

Fighting Sprint’s attempt to put a cellular tower “in one of the neighborhoods” around the year 2000 was the final spark toward piquing LaMarche’s interest in local politics and Town issues.

“We became organized and I would go to the [Farragut Municipal Planning Commission] every two weeks, and we won,” she said.

Also a former school teacher, LaMarche said she noticed “on [F]MPC a couple of people who went along with Sprint; I was thinking, ‘You know what, you need to represent your constituents.’

“So I called [then Mayor] Eddy Ford, and I said, ‘Eddy, how do you get on this [F]MPC?” she added. “He said, ‘Send me your résumé and if I’m reelected I’ll consider you.’”

Though not getting the FMPC post, “A couple of months later he called me and asked me to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals,” LaMarche said. “Well, I didn’t know a thing about zoning. I said, ‘You know what, I’m willing to learn.’”

“Dot has been a tremendous supporter and advocate of the town of Farragut at both the local and national level,” David Smoak, Town Administrator, said. “We are going to miss having her leadership on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and wish her all the best in the future.”

LaMarche credited the late Dan Olson, former Town Admin-istrator, for “helping me; I came out of his office with a stack-full of books and I learned.”

After serving two-and-a-half years on BZA, “The newspaper came out and said ‘no one is running for Alderman on the South side.’ So I asked my husband if he would be my campaign manager,” LaMarche said.

“He said, ‘Dot, why do you want to do that, you get so many calls about everything else?’ I said, ‘Nobody’s running, maybe I can do it.’

“So, I ran against five men” and was elected South Ward Alderman in 2003. LaMarche then ran unopposed in 2007 and 2011.

“It has been my privilege and honor to serve with someone of the caliber and integrity of Dot LaMarche,” Alderman Bob Markli said. “She is one of the most honorable, caring, virtuous and capable women I have ever known.

“… She will be sorely missed on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen,” Markli added. “In many ways, Dot LaMarche defined Farragut.”

LaMarche, current national president of Women In Muni-cipal Government for 2015-16 term, said her “mentors” were then Mayor Ford and then Vice Mayor Mike Haynes.

“Eddie said, ‘I want you to be active on the state and national level,’” LaMarche added.

She joined National League of Cities as vice chair on its Human Development committee for two years.

“I was also elected to the Board of Directors for two years,” LaMarche said. “At the end of my last meeting, the NLC wrote a resolution in my honor and I got a standing ovation.”

On the state level, “My first thing was district chairman of the Tennessee Municipal League,” LaMarche said.

“She’s had just about every position you could have, I think, from BZA to Planning Commission to Board of Mayor and Aldermen,” Mayor Ralph McGill said. “… She’s been a busy lady for many years.”

“The town of Farragut has been good to me in allowing me to take classes and go to school to learn leadership skills and understand what it takes to govern a small town,” LaMarche said.

LaMarche leaves office today, Thursday, Aug. 25.

The LaMarches have three daughters, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.