LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Raymond Sindo Blanco, husband of former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, and former vice president of UL Lafayette died at the age of 87.
Blanco’s legacy began as a coach at Catholic High in New Iberia. He led a successful football program to a state championship in 1962. Mike Neustrom, a former player for Blanco, told News 10 that his players knew him as a guide to doing wants right for his team.
“The unique thing about Coach,” Neustrom said, “was that he assumed a very strong parental fatherly relationship with a lot of his players. Particularly those who were kind of in need of that type of parenting.”
Coach made his way to the collegiate level in 1963 obtaining an assistant coaching position in USL’s football program under then-coach Russ Faulkinberry.
His role changed years later from the field to the office, as he became dean of students for the university. Still known as “Coach” on campus, Blanco took his role as an administrator seriously and was able to win the hearts of everyone on campus.
UL Lafayette alumni David Begnaud told News 10, “You can’t talk about Raymond Blanco without talking about UL Lafayette, and vice-versa. I mean there are so many people who did not know a lot about him politically but knew him as ‘Coach’ on campus or knew him as the dean.”
Begnaud said Coach loved his job at UL, but he loved the political game more than anybody else.
A big part of Blanco’s legacy is being the first and only “first gentleman” when his beloved and late wife Kathleen Blanco took office as the governor of Louisiana in 2004. Known as a great contributor to the work she put in for social justice in the state of Louisiana, Coach was known for being right by her side in every way.
Neustrom said that Coach was “very supportive and very involved with the civil rights movement [with] the continuing effort to make things fair [and] make things just with the system of justice and dealing with everyone.”
After his retirement in 2009, Blanco enjoyed his role as husband and loving partner to his wife until her death in August 2019.
His legacy continued as he was a great role model and contributor to many people in his life.
Neustrom said that he thinks “The people that he was close to shared his values and his philosophy, and I think you will see it in the future reappearing in a variety of fashions.”
“There was no one like Raymond Blanco before him, and I do not know who is coming after him. I mean he was one of a kind [and] once in a lifetime,” Begnaud said.