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.”
ABOUT GOVERNOR BLANCO
On January 12, 2004, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco became the first woman to serve as governor of Louisiana when she was sworn in as the state’s 54th leader. In her long, distinguished career, Governor Blanco served the people with a vision of creating a new Louisiana, filled with hope and opportunity for all citizens.
A champion for Louisiana’s children and families, Governor Blanco’s top priorities during her administration were providing affordable, accessible healthcare, improving the state's education system and creating a strong and vibrant economy. She led Louisiana’s recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the failure of the federal levees in New Orleans, fighting for and winning increased funding for rebuilding to help bring Louisianans back, to rebuild their homes and reopen their businesses and to reconstruct billions worth of damaged infrastructure.
Before serving in the state's top office, Governor Blanco completed two terms as Lieutenant Governor, focusing on increasing tourism to the state.
Always a trailblazer, she began her career as a public servant in 1984, when she became the first woman ever elected to represent the people of Lafayette in the state Legislature. Five years later she was elected to the Public Service Commission, where she became the first woman to serve as a Commissioner and, later, as the first woman to chair the Commission (1993-94).
Before joining the public sector, Governor Blanco taught at Breaux Bridge High School, a public school in Southwest Louisiana, not far from the community of Coteau, where she was born. She received a B.S. degree in Business Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
She married her husband Raymond in 1964. Together, they raised six children and were the proud grandparents of 13 grandchildren.