Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana’s first female governor, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
Blanco, a Democrat, served as governor from 2004 to 2008. She administered the state’s response during Hurricane Katrina.
Blanco’s family released this statement Sunday afternoon:
“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.”
Blanco met a series of firsts in her political life. Upon winning elected office in 1983, she became the first woman from Lafayette to join Louisiana’s House of Representatives. In 1988, the Democrat was elected as the first woman to serve on Louisiana’s Public Service Commission.
Blanco served as lieutenant governor from 1996 to 2004 before her election to the Governor’s Mansion.
Blanco, who was first diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2011, announced in December 2017 that her cancer had returned. She declared that her diagnosis was terminal.
The 76-year-old leaves behind her husband of 54 years, “Coach” Raymond Blanco.
The former governor’s family plans to hold funeral services Saturday, Aug. 24.