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Elaine Edwards passes away at 89

Remembering the former US Senator and longest-serving First Lady of Louisiana

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WNTZ) - Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards, the longest-serving first lady of Louisiana, passed away Monday in Denham Springs at the age of 89.

Edwards was living in hospice care, and was battling a long illness. She died of respiratory failure around 11:00 a.m, according to family members.

As the first wife of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, Elaine Edwards served as first lady during her husband's first three terms in office, from 1972 to 1980 and 1984 to 1988.

United States Senate president pro tempore and longtime serving Senator Allen J. Ellender of Houma was fending off a challenge from Shreveport attorney J. Bennett Johnston for the Senate seat in 1972.  Ellender died during the campaign on July 27.  Gov. Edwards appointed his wife to fill the vacated seat five days later.

Elaine Edwards served just three months in the Senate to fill the seat until Johnston was duly voted in the 1972 election to the office. It is speculated that Edwin Edwards, who won the Democratic primary against Johnston onto winning the gubernatorial election the year prior, nominated Elaine in order to scathe off Johnston from filling the vacated Senate seat early and fend off any other would-be challengers to his wide-reaching political power in the state.

In a statement, son Stephen Edwards said the following of his mother's passing:

"It is the saddest regret that we announce the passing of our mother, Elaine Swartzenberg Edwards. 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."

Elaine Edwards was born March 8, 1929, in Marksville, Lousiana, to parents Errol Leo Schwartzenburg and Myrl Dupuy Schwartzenburg. Edwin and Elaine Edwards met as childhood sweethearts in Marksville and married in 1949. They divorced in 1989 after 40 years of marriage.

Elaine Edwards is preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Frank. Another brother, Ralph, remains in life.

Elaine Edwards had four children with Edwin -- Anna, Victoria, Stephen and David. She spent the final years of her life living in Baton Rouge.

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