Pat Brister, ex-Louisiana GOP chair, parish president, dies

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COVINGTON, La. (AP) — Patricia “Pat” Brister, a former chairwoman of Louisiana’s Republican Party who served two terms as president of St. Tammany Parish, died early Monday at age 73, her family said in an emailed statement.

She died about three weeks after leaving office following an unsuccessful bid for a third term leading the suburban New Orleans parish north of Lake Pontchartrain. The family statement did not state a cause of death. A friend of Brister’s told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate that she had been battling cancer.

Brister was a national GOP committeewoman from Louisiana from 1996 to 2000. She was elected party chairwoman in 2000 and served four years.

President George W. Bush named her ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2006.

Former state Rep. Reid Falconer, who was on the St. Tammany Parish Council during Brister’s first term of office, singled out Safe Haven, the behavioral health care campus the parish spearheaded after the state closed the Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville, as Brister’s most significant accomplishment.

“She took what could have been a terrible situation, the closure of a vital service to the larger community and not just St. Tammany Parish, and made something out of it that will be her legacy for the future,” Falconer said.

“Pat leaves behind a legacy of service, philanthropy, and entrepreneurialism,” new parish president Mike Cooper, who won last year’s election, said in an email. “I, along with the employees of St. Tammany Parish Government and all citizens, extend deepest sympathies to Pat’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

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