NEW ORLEANS — Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who turns 94 in August, announced Tuesday that he has entered hospice care after being hospitalized Sunday with pain in his right lung.
The four-term former governor, whose three-decade dominance of Louisiana politics was all but overshadowed by an eight-year stretch in federal prison, downplayed the end-of-life aspect of hospice care.
“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 said in joint statement with his wife, Trina.
The decision followed an ambulance trip to St. Elizabeth’s hospital, near his home. Doctors there provided a battery of tests that revealed nothing.
“His blood oxygen and blood pressure were both low,” Trina Edwards said. “And we made the decision to go the hospital out of an abundance of caution. His strength has been failing in recent weeks but Edwin has always rallied back in the past and we’re praying for that again.”
Edwards, a Democrat, served seven years in Congress and then two terms as governor in the 1970s, when he oversaw the adoption of a new state constitution, appointed what was then a record number of Black people to important positions and pushed a method of taxing oil that filled state coffers. He was widely popular, admired for a quick wit and flamboyant lifestyle.
Constitutionally barred from a third consecutive term, he won the governorship back in 1983 and, after coming up short in the 1987 election, returned again 1991. After retiring from politics, he was convicted on federal corruption charges arising from the licensing of riverboat casinos in that fourth term. He always insisted he did nothing wrong.
He emerged from prison in 2011 with his quick wit intact. He married his third wife, Trina Grimes, who had been a prison pen pal. He was 83. She was 32. They had a son in 2013.
“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,” Edwards’ Tuesday statement said. “But it won’t be anytime soon for me. In fact, I am planning my 95th birthday party for next summer and hope you’ll come.”