Louisiana’s first female governor passed away Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
In one of her last interviews, she shared what her life was like growing up in Iberia Parish, and what made her the person she would become.
“I was born in New Iberia, Louisiana.”
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was born on December 15, 1942.
Her father owned a rug cleaning business. her mother took care of her and her siblings, sewing all their clothes.
In what was one of her last interviews before her passing, she recounted stories about her adventures with her brothers and sisters while they were growing up in Coteau, and the love they all shared.
“Yvette was my first sister and i was so excited to have a sister that I thought she was a little princess and a good partner for me as we grew up we stayed very close as well and I’m close to Priscilla, I’m close to Yvette, Im close to all of my brothers and sisters. they mean a lot to me.”
Blanco has always been known as an advocate for education. her love of learning began on her first day of school… but it didn’t start well.
“So i started in first grade when i was five at Coteau elementary and I didn’t want to go to school. She called my grandfather to go to school on day one. I didn’t want to go to school, saying i didn’t want to be left at school by myself. He swatted me on my butt and said come on Kathleen, we’re going to school, and he brought me down to the school, and he delivered me to school and I learned that I loved school. It was a great place to be.”
And she discovered her love of reading.
“I loved books. Books gave me a huge perspective, every book I read gave me an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
But did she ever want to be a politician?
“Being a politician was probably the last thing that I ever would have imagined myself being.”
Her father ran for parish assessor and clerk of court and lost both times, but Blanco remembers the lesson of the family photos they took for his campaigns.
“Hold your head up high.”
Blanco has so much to be proud of, a long marriage to her husband Raymond, her children, and a legacy in Louisiana politics that will live on through the Kathleen Blanco public policy center on the U-L campus.