Funeral service for Katrina-era governor, Kathleen Blanco
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s former governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, was remembered Saturday for her authenticity, compassion and love as well as for the impact she had on the state and on those she met.
Three days of public mourning for Blanco ended with a funeral Mass and burial service for the devout Catholic. Gov. John Bel Edwards was among the hundreds of people who packed St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Lafayette to honor the state’s only female governor. After the Mass, Blanco was buried in a private family service.
Blanco, who served one term as governor and various elected positions across two decades, was in Louisiana’s top job during the destruction of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. She died a week ago from cancer. Blanco was 76.
During the service, each of her children spoke of their mother’s legacy.
“We are here today because of one thing — and that’s love,” said Karmen Blanco-Hatfield, Blanco’s oldest child. “You knew without a doubt that you were loved unconditionally by our mother. ... Although she is gone, her love has left an eternal mark on each of us in the world. Her life was a stream of love that flowed across the earth, sweeping people into a warm embrace.”
Monique Blanco Boulet, another daughter, reflected on how her mother affected those around her.
“You do not really realize the depth of her impact until you start talking to the people who said she changed their lives,” she said.
CBS News reporter David Begnaud recalled an interview he had with Blanco shortly after she was elected governor when he was fairly new in his journalism career.
“Her mantra was ‘I gave it my all,’” he said. “She will be remembered for her authenticity and her compassion. ... She made people feel that they were important and that they were heard.”
Boulet said many people this past week have told her and her siblings that they, now, are tasked with continuing her mother’s legacy. But she told the crowd, “We all have her legacy to carry on and it starts with faith.”
The former governor also was memorialized at prayer services Thursday in Baton Rouge and Friday in Lafayette. Hundreds of mourners packed the Louisiana Capitol for a public visitation.