Kathleen Blanco dies after long cancer battle

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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 76, her family announced.

Governor Blanco was born and rasied in Southwest Louisiana.

The New Iberia native lived her life in Acadiana, celebrating her Cajun ancestry.

It was in Acadiana she received her education including in 1964 obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Business Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then the University of Southwestern Louisiana or USL.

In 1964, she married Raymond Blanco, a football coach and educator.

The couple had six children; Karmen Monique, Nicole, Pilar, Ray Jr., and Ben.

After college, she taught business at Breaux Bridge High School for a short time before becoming a stay at home mom.

She would face a mother’s worst nightmare in 1997 when her youngest son Ben, was killed in a shipyard accident at the young age of 19.

Her love of family and close ties, the support of her community and her Catholic faith she once said, pulled her through the heartbreaking loss.

She was elected the first woman and the 54th Governor of Louisiana in 2004.

And that’s just one of many firsts for her.

Before the election, she served 20 years in public office, being elected in 1983 as the first woman legislator from the city of Lafayette where she served five years in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

As incoming Governor, Blanco listed among her top priorities, providing affordable healthcare, improving the education system and helping to create a strong and vibrant economy through aggressive economic development initiatives.

As Governor she would be challenged in 2005 when Coastal Louisiana was severely devastated by two hurricanes that struck less than a month apart.

Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans region in August of 2005.

Then, in September, Hurricane Rita struck.

Many believed the immediate response from the city, state, and federal governments was inadequate, and Blanco later acknowledged there were failures on the part of her administration before and after the storm.

President George W. Bush also accepted responsibility for all problems that occurred at the federal level.

However, much criticism was directed at the federal emergency management agency or FEMA, for what many called a slow initial response to the disaster leaving many trying to evacuate from New Orleans without resources to do so.

The unforgettable images of the stranded souls were captured in photos, videos and global news stories broadcasting the devastation.

In March of 2007, Blanco announced that she would not seek re-election.

And despite the disastrous hurricanes, she said she met all of her initial goals by the end of her term.

In December of 2017, Blanco was diagnosed with an incurable form of liver cancer.

A year later at a meeting of civic association, the council for a better louisiana, Blanco, a devout catholic said there is “no escape”, from her illness and she has”made peace”, with her fate.

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

The family issued the following statement:

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. “

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

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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