Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), who was the state's chief executive for four terms before serving nearly nine years in prison for federal corruption charges, died on Monday at his home. He was 93.
The Advocate reported that Edwards died of respiratory problems that he struggled with in recent years, citing the former governor's biographer, Leo Honeycutt. He passed away with family and friends surrounding his bedside in Gonzales, La.
“I have lived a good life, had better breaks than most, had some bad breaks, too, but that’s all part of it. I tried to help as many people as I could and I hope I did that, and I hope, if I did, that they will help others, too. I love Louisiana and I always will,” Edwards said in some of his last words, according to The Associated Press, which cited cited Honeycutt’s statement.
“While people assume that hospice means I’m dying, I assure everyone it’s simply a matter of good and convenient care that is less trouble for everybody,” Edwards wrote.
“I’ve made no bones that I have considered myself on borrowed time for 20 years and we each know that all this fun has to end at some point,” he added.
Edwards served as Louisiana’s governor for four terms, leading the state from 1972 to 1980, 1984 to 1988 and 1992 to 1996.
The 1991 election was a rather noteworthy race. Edwards took on, and ultimately bested, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. He secured 1,057,031 votes, according to The Advocate, the most ever won in a Louisiana gubernatorial election.
He spent time in Congress before his tenure as governor, representing the state in the House of Representatives.
The end of Edwards’s career, however, was marked by controversy. After his time as governor, he was convicted on federal corruption charges in connection to the licensing of riverboat casinos, which was completed during his fourth term in office.
He contended that the case against him was constructed on misinterpreted, covertly taped conversations and lies from former friends who made deals to avoid jail time, the AP noted.
Nonetheless, he ultimately served 8 1/2 years of a 10-year prison sentence, emerging from incarceration in 2011.
Edwards was born on Aug. 7, 1927, to a sharecropper and a midwife in Avoyelles Parish, La., according to the AP.
He had a total of five children: four with his first wife, Elaine Edwards, whom he was married to for 40 years before divorcing in 1989, and the fifth with Trina Edwards in 2013.