BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – The events of the death of former Louisiana Governor Edwin W. Edwards were due to begin on Saturday with a public tour of the State Capitol’s marbled Memorial Hall, where the flamboyant politician served for 16 years.
Edwards was the only person elected governor of Louisiana four times during a career of notable political ups and downs. The quick-witted politician reshaped Louisiana’s oil revenues and dominated state politics for decades. But a corruption scandal put him in federal prison for around eight years and overshadowed his tenure.
He died Monday at his Gonzales home at the age of 93.
Edwards died of breathing problems with family and friends by his bedside days after being admitted to a hospice at his home in Gonzales, near the capital, Louisiana.
The former governor’s coffin was to be open to the public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the huge Memorial Hall between Louisiana House and the Senate Chambers.
Edwards drew attention to himself because he led a push for a new state constitution in the 1970s and brought blacks into state government. But he was also frequently touched by allegations of wrongdoing.
He was tried and acquitted on corruption charges in the 1980s during his third term in office. He was convicted in 2000 on charges of accepting withdrawals to broker Riverboat Casino licenses to friends during and after his final tenure in the 1990s.
On Saturday, Edwards made a definitive 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, who was elected governor in 1928 and the Senate in 1932, was murdered in 1935 in a hallway just steps from Edwards’ coffin. Long is buried on the Capitol grounds.
A State Police honor guard is scheduled to carry Edwards’ coffin down the steps of the Capitol to a horse-drawn carriage on Sunday. The Southern University Marching Band will lead a funeral procession along a four-mile route to the Old State Capitol, built in the 19th century, for a private funeral for family and invited guests.
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