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Former Governor Kathleen Blanco dies at 76

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Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who led Louisiana through Hurricane Katrina as her state’s first elected female governor, has died.

The office of Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed Blanco died Sunday. She was 76.

Blanco had battled a rare eye cancer successfully in 2011, but that later returned and spread to her liver.

Her death came more than a year after the Democrat who served in state government offices for more than two decades announced she was in a “fight for my own life, one that will be difficult to win.” Blanco was governor from 2004 to 2008. Katrina stopped her plans to run for re-election.

Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the passing of former Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. Her family has released the following statement:

“Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco peacefully passed away on August 18, 2019 at St. Joseph’s Hospice Carpenter House in Lafayette, Louisiana, surrounded by her beloved husband Raymond, her children and family.

She was a woman of grace, faith and hope. She has left an eternal mark on all who knew her, because she was generous and unconditional in her love, warm in her embrace and genuinely interested in the welfare of others.

While she knew that her name would forever be linked with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was her dying wish that she be remembered for her faith in God, commitment to family and love of Louisiana.

As Louisiana’s first female governor, her prestigious career cannot be separated from her faith and family – all are intertwined. In her words, her public service provided an opportunity for her “to be the voice of the voiceless; to shape the rising tide that lifts all boats; to advocate for policies and changes that make good common sense; and to have a positive impact on the lives of all people.

Our hearts are broken, but we are joyful in knowing that she is rejoicing in her heavenly reunion with Christ. Please pray for God’s peace to carry us through the coming days and months of sorrow as we mourn her absence from our lives. “

Details regarding services to celebrate her life and legacy will be issued in the coming days.

Former Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana’s first female Governor, has died at the age of 76, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today. Governor Blanco will lie in state at Louisiana’s State Capitol in the coming days. The Governor’s office will release details soon.

Gov. Edwards issued the following statement:

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has passed, after courageously battling cancer.

Serving as this state’s first female governor, Kathleen was a trailblazer and broke many barriers, leading the way for others to follow. She stands among the giants who have helped shaped Louisiana’s history. Kathleen loved this state and our people and was a shining example of what can be accomplished by hard work and determination.

She led Louisiana through one of our darkest hours, when hurricanes and the failure of the federal levee system devastated much of our state. I hope history will remember Governor Blanco as a tireless advocate for Louisiana, who fought fiercely for our state to rebuild following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Louisianans owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Blanco, who always put the people of our state first, fighting to improve the quality of life for our families and children, championing better educational opportunities for all students at every level and building a stronger Louisiana. In 2004, she said: “I feel that call to lift up the less fortunate, the call to improve our communities and our state. It drives me to serve Louisiana as governor.”

Donna and I hope you will join your prayers to ours for her husband Raymond “Coach” and their family and friends. May God bless them all during this difficult time.”

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