The Advocate will provide live updates as the Louisiana says its goodbyes to former governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
Baton Rouge said goodbye to former Gov. Kathleen Blanco at an interfaith memorial service Thursday morning followed by a public visitation at the State Capitol that drew long lines.
The service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral featured biblical readings, a bagpiper’s skirl, hymns and popular Louisiana music.
Among those in the cathedral were First Lady Donna Edwards and her husband, Gov. John Bel Edwards; his predecessor, Bobby Jindal; East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; U.S. Rep. Garret Graves; Senate President John Alario; House Speaker Taylor Barras; Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon; and a host of former legislators who served with Blanco.
Just before 1 p.m., an honor guard carried Blanco’s casket up the steps of the State Capitol after a 21-gun salute and taps. Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, former legislators and former staffers were at the head of line. Public visitation will continue until 6 p.m.
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Blanco, 76, died on Sunday after a long fight against ocular melanoma.
There will be a public visitation in Lafayette on Friday at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral and her funeral mass on Saturday in Lafayette, again at the cathedral.
She will be buried in a private service in Grand Coteau, a Cajun community that her daughter Monique Boulet described as a "Holy Land." Blanco grew up in a different community, Coteau, where she lived until age 14 when her family moved nearby to New Iberia. Her son Ben, who died tragically in a 1997 industrial accident, will be reinterred in Grand Coteau.
Gov. John Bel Edwards presented the state flag from Kathleen Blanco’s coffin to her husband Raymond “Coach” Blanco.
Then, the singing of Amazing Grace by Southern University choral group marks the end of the interfaith service remembering Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
Events now shift to the State Capitol for an honor guard on the front steps followed by public visitation at the State Capitol.
After the service Blanco’s body will be driven three blocks to the State Capitol by the Louisiana State Police. At about 12:30 p.m. her casket will be carried up the front steps, pausing about midway, where the Louisiana National Guard will shoot a salute and play Taps.
Her casket will be met at the top of the stairs by her husband, Raymond “Coach” Blanco, her 99-year-old mother, Lucille Babineaux, the governor and first lady, Senate President John Alario and House Speaker Taylor Barras.
The casket will be escorted into Memorial Hall and at about 1 p.m. the public will be allowed to file past to pay their respects and then be greeted by a member of the Blanco family.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards will be first in line.
The public will be able to pay their respects until 6 p.m., but anyone in line when the doors close will be able visit.
St Aloysius School Performance Choir sang “This Little Light of Mine” and then Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke at the service.
He recalled that before being sworn in as governor, Blanco invited the Edwards family to dinner in her Lafayette home. She wanted to share with his children what life in the Governor’s Mansion would be like.
In addition to a great old fashioned served by her husband, Edwards said he most recalled Blanco asked Edwards to remember to poor.
“That night, she also spoke to me about the need to focus on the least fortunate and most vulnerable in Louisiana. She did not cite Matthew 25, but I knew that passa