Elaine Edwards (center) shares husband Edwin Edwards' triumph with their four children (from left) Victoria, Anna, Stephen (behind Elaine) and David. Elaine and Edwin Edwards were high school sweethearts at Marksville High and married in 1949 and divorced in 1989. She was the state's first lady in Edwards' first three terms as governor and was served three months as the appointed interim U.S. senator when Allen Ellender died in 1972.
Three-term La. First Lady Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards dies at age 89
Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards, Louisiana’s first lady in three of husband Edwin Edward’s terms as governor, passed away Monday in hospice care after a long illness, her family said.
The 89-year-old Marksville native also served three months as an interim senator following the death of Allen Ellender in 1972. She resigned after J. Bennett Johnston was elected to the position.
Mrs. Edwards died of respiratory problems at the Denham Springs residence of her daughter, Victoria Edwards, at around 11 a.m. Monday (May 14).
She was the first wife of former Gov. Edwin Edwards and was the state’s longest-serving first lady, with terms from 1972-80 and 1984-88.
Her brother, Ralph Schwartzenburg of Marksville, said he and the family appreciate all of the kind words and prayers in their time of grief.
In a prepared statement, Edwin Edwards said, “Given how much she suffered in the last few months because of her illness, it is not surprising and death is inevitable.”
“On behalf of our children, I hope that we all recognize she is probably better off,” he added.
Stephen Edwards said his mother wanted the people of Louisiana to know she was grateful for their love and support over the years. He said his mother was the matriarch of the family and dedicated her life to public service and philanthropy.
She had lived in Baton Rouge since retiring.
“It is the saddest regret that we announce the passing of our mother, Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards," Stephen Edwards said in a statement released Monday. "She has gone to join her loved ones in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
He said she passed away “after a protracted illness. Her four children were at her side at the end of her life.”
He said he and his siblings were “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,” Stephen Edwards continued, “she asked that I thank the people of the State of Louisiana for such a wonderful life.”
Current Gov. John Bel Edwards -- no relation to the flamboyant four-term governor -- issued a statement saying he and wife Donna “send our prayers and condolences to the family of former First Lady Elaine Edwards. She served this state as the first lady and the country as a U.S. senator with class, compassion and a true commitment to the people of Louisiana.”
The governor said Elaine Edwards “imparted great wisdom and leaves behind a remarkable legacy of giving back to others and a dedication to public service. Her love for this state and its citizens will be long remembered.”
First Lady Donna Edwards said the former first lady “certainly set the stage for those who have been blessed to serve in the same capacity.”
Elaine and Edwin Edwards were childhood sweethearts, growing up in Marksville. They married in 1949 and divorced in 1989.
She is survived by four children: Anna, Victoria, Stephen and David and one brother, Ralph Schwartzenburg of Marksville.
Elaine Edwards was one of two U.S. senators from Avoyelles Parish. The other was John Overton.
Her family’s home still stands on Preston Street in Marksville.