UL Icon and Former First Gentleman, Raymond Blanco, Dies at 87

LAFAYETTE (KPEL News) — Raymond Blanco, a longtime administrator at the University of Louisiana and husband of the late former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, passed away on Saturday. He was 87.

Blanco, known to many as “Coach,” joined UL’s football team in 1963. In 1969, he held the posts of dean for men, student staff, and student dean. He was later appointed vice president of student affairs until his retirement in 2009.

But apart from his role in Lafayette, he was also very active in his wife’s political career. She was Governor of Louisiana from 2004 to 2008.

In a statement, Governor John Bel Edwards said everyone who met Mr Blanco was immediately impressed.

“Some people leave a lasting impression from the moment you meet them,” he said. “Coach was one of those people.

Mr Blanco was the “son of immigrants and a devout Catholic,” Edward’s statement continued. “Coach believed in social justice and education for all, passions he shared with his late wife, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. He was Louisiana’s first and only first gentleman, but he would be the first to tell you that he won’t be the last.”

Credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

UL also released a statement commemorating Mr. Blanco.

“Coach Blanco once said that students are among his best friends – and our students have never had a better friend or tougher advocate than Raymond Blanco,” said UL President Dr. Joseph Savoie in the statement. “Those of us who have worked for and with Coach have often heard him say that it is a moral obligation to listen to students and to respond fairly and kindly to their concerns.”

Full Statement by Governor John Bel Edwards

“Some people leave a lasting impression from the moment you meet them. Coach was one of those people. As the son of immigrants and a staunch Catholic, Coach believed in social justice and educational opportunities for all, passions he shared with his late wife, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco shared. He was Louisiana’s first and only first gentleman to date, but he’d be the first to tell you he won’t be the last. A legend himself, Coach led countless teams to victory before taking on an administrative role at his beloved University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His love for this state and his devotion to his wife and family were ebullient. I will forever cherish his quick wit and wise advice – as well as his recipe for the perfect Old Fashioned.

While this is a great loss to our state, we can rest assured that Coach is reunited with his best friend and soul mate, and their son, Ben.

Donna and I ask that you join us in praying for your children and family at this difficult time.”

Full statement from UL President Dr. Joseph Savoy

Photo via UL Lafayette

Photo via UL Lafayette

Coach Blanco once said that students were among his best friends – and our students never had a better friend or tougher advocate than Raymond Blanco.

His dedication to their success and belief in social justice have created a legacy that is deeply ingrained in our university’s culture.

Those of us who have worked for and with Coach have often heard him say that it is a moral obligation to listen to students and respond to their concerns fairly and kindly.

While there are hundreds of stories of his larger than life exuberance and antics, there are just as many tales of quiet mentorship and leadership. In dormitories and locker rooms, in his living room and kitchen, he sat with students and just listened.

He treated them as if they were his own and offered advice based on a clear sense of right and wrong. He bonded with students as individuals deserving of attention and respect. He listened with his ears and heard them with his heart.

If today we are a university that fosters dialogue and understanding, that prioritizes student success and safety, that infuses caring and compassion into our mission, then we can rightly claim to be following Raymond Blanco’s example.

The university community joins me in sending my condolences to Karmen, Pilar, Monique, Nicole, Ray and their families.

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https://kpel965.com/ul-icon-and-former-first-gentleman-raymond-blanco-dies-at-87/ UL Icon and Former First Gentleman, Raymond Blanco, Dies at 87

Linh

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