Events marking the death of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards were set to begin Saturday with a public viewing in the marble-trimmed Memorial Hall of the state Capitol where the flamboyant politician served 16 years.
Edwards was the only person elected four times as Louisiana’s governor during a career of remarkable political highs and lows. The quick-witted politician reshaped Louisiana’s oil revenues and dominated the state’s politics for decades. But a corruption scandal sent him to federal prison for about eight years, overshadowing his time in office.
He died Monday at his home in Gonzales at age 93.
Edwards died of respiratory problems with family and friends by his bedside, days after entering hospice care at his home in Gonzales, near the Louisiana capital.
The former governor’s casket was to be on public view from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday in the vast Memorial Hall between the Louisiana House and Senate chambers.
Edwards drew attention for leading a push for a new state constitution and bringing Black people into state government in the 1970s. But he also was frequently touched by accusations of wrongdoing.
He was tried and acquitted on corruption charges in the 1980s during his third term. He was convicted in 2000 on charges that he took payoffs to help steer riverboat casino licenses to friends during and after his final term in the 1990s.
Saturday marked Edwards’ final return to the 34-story Capitol built in the 1930s at the behest of Huey Long, a fiery populist Democrat to whom Edwards was often compared. Long, elected governor in 1928 and to the U.S. Senate in 1932, was assassinated in 1935 in a hallway steps from where Edwards’ casket was on display. Long is buried on the Capitol grounds.
On Sunday, a state police honor guard is to carry Edwards’ casket down the steps of the Capitol to a horse-drawn carriage at noon. The Southern University Marching Band will lead a funeral procession along a roughly 1 mile (1.6 kilometer) route to the Old State Capitol, built in the 1800s, for a private funeral for family and invited guests.