Former First Lady Elaine Edwards dies at 89; arrangements set

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards, a former first lady of Louisiana, passed away Monday, May 14 in hospice care after a long illness, her family said. She was 89.

Family members said she died at the home of her daughter, Victoria Edwards, in Denham Springs, around 11 a.m. They added she died of respiratory problems.

Edwards was the first wife of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. She has the distinction of being the state's longest-serving first lady with terms from 1972 to 1980 and 1984 to 1988.

The former governor released a statement on the passing of his ex-wife. It reads:

We were married for 43 years and she was a great asset to me as Governor during my 1st three terms. She spent a great deal of time raising funds for the crippled children's hospital in New Orleans which was named for my mother. We are parents of 4 children and grandparents of numerous grand children and great grandchildren. I know she was very sick and suffered tremendously for the past few months and while her passing is sad, death was inevitable. My sympathy to my children. I have expressed and appreciate their loyalty to their mother. We cannot revive the dead or change the past. I am very grateful and appreciate the expression of sympathy from so many mutual friends.

In 1972, Edwards was appointed to the US Senate by her husband after the death of Allen Ellender. She only served three months before resigning after J. Bennett Johnston was elected.

Stephen Edwards said his mother wanted the people of Louisiana to know how grateful she was for their love and support over the years. He said his mother was the true matriarch of the family and dedicated her life to public service and philanthropy. She'd been living in Baton Rouge since retirement.

Statement from Stephen Edwards:

It is the saddest regret that we announce the passing of our mother, Elaine Swartzenberg Edwards," her son, Stephen Edwards, said Monday. "She has gone to join her Loved ones in the kingdom of heaven. My mom left this life after a protracted illness. Her four children were at her side at the end of her life. It goes without saying that we are honored to be her children. Our Mother was a dedicated servant to the state she loved so dearly. She will be remembered as a true Matriarch of our family, a philanthropist and the embodiment of class. In the recent days before her passing, she asked that I thank the people of the State of Louisiana for such a wonderful life.

A memorial service will be held from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Monday, May 21 at Resthaven Gardens Cemetery at 11817 Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge. Charitable donations may be made to Children's Hospital of New Orleans, the Humane Society, or the charity of your choice.

Elaine and Edwin Edwards were childhood sweethearts growing up in Marksville. The pair married in 1949 and divorced 40 years later in 1989. Her son said she and the former governor remained in occasional contact.

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