Ron LaFrance, the former director of the Amercian Indian, died July 29

Ron LaFrance, the former director of the American Indian Program, died suddenly of a heart attack July 29 at his home on the Akwesasne Reservation, near Hogansburg, N.Y. He was 51.

LaFrance joined the American Indian Program at Cornell in 1984 as an extension associate. He was named acting director in 1988 and served as director from 1991 to 1993. Most recently, he served as director of the Akwesasne Mohawk Board of Education.

One of LaFrance's career achievements included the comple tion of Akwe:kon, the residential program house for the Ameri can Indian Program.

LaFrance often spoke of the admirable mission of the American Indian Program. "My view of what Cornell is doing with the American Indian Program now is offering a view of what the 21st century will bring us and what skills are needed - without forcing us to lose our identity," he said.

During LaFrance's tenure more than 1,200 students participated in the program's courses and activities.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Empire State College in 1980, and a master's degree and doctorate in 1985 and 1995, respectively, from Cornell.

He is survived by his wife, Martha, and six children.

A burial ceremony for LaFrance was held Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Longhouse on the Akwesasne Reservation. A memorial service will be held on campus in Septem ber, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the opening of Akwe:kon.