Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
Marion Edwards, the younger brother of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and powerbroker behind many of his campaigns for office, died Saturday. He was 84.
A family spokesperson said Edwards, a cancer survivor since 1977, died at his home in Broussard, near Lafayette. He was the former governor’s last surviving sibling.
Marion Edwards was seen by many as less flamboyant than his older brother, but still known as a shrewd political figure and fundraiser and quick with the quips and one-liners, an obvious family trait. Most recently, Marion Edwards was part of the group which organized a birthday roast for Edwin soon after his release from federal prison and subsequent marriage.
Often wearing a large hat and always nattily-dressed, Marion Edwards was also frequently in the public spotlight. That included being indicted along with his brother in a 1980s scandal involving hospital licenses. The case famously ended with a mistrial, with jurors leaning toward acquittal.
Marion Edwards was also a fixture at the Baton Rouge courthouse for the later trial which ended up sending his brother to federal prison. During Edwin Edwards' imprisonment, Marion Edwards was often a family spokesman.
Marion and Edwin Edwards were two of five children in the Edwards family raised during the Great Depression on the family farm in Marksville, in central Louisiana. In his 2009 biography by Leo Honeycutt, Edwin Edwards talked about life on the farm, with his three brothers and older sister Audrey.
"Marion, eleven months my junior, and Nolan, two years younger, being about the same ages and size, we three played and worked together," Edwin Edwards wrote.
In the book, Edwards also details his brother's role in fundraising for his gubernatorial campaigns and even holding the bible to swear him in to office, in French.
In addition to consulting on his brother’s campaigns and political affairs, Marion Edwards’ professional career included work as a real estate agent and insurance salesman. He also served as vice president of governmental affairs for Freeport McMoRan for more than 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s.
He attended Bethany Nazarene College in Bethany, Oklahoma, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.
In recent years, Edwards and his wife Penny were closely associated with The Acadian Conservatory of Music, where he was a frequent supporter and philanthropist, helping young students further their education.
Edwards’ own battle with cancer inspired the family to establish the Marion D. Edwards Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology at the M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in his honor.
In addition to his wife and three children from a previous marriage, Edwards is also survived by five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held at Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home, 301 North Avenue F, Crowley, on Monday, Jan. 14, from 2 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Jan. 15, from 8 to 10 a.m. The funeral will be held at the First Church of the Nazarene, 1203 West Northern Ave., Crowley, on Tuesday, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers donation can be made to Marion D. Edwards Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology, MD. Anderson PO Box 301439, Houston, TX 77230, or Hospice of Acadiana, 260 Johnston Street, Suite 200, Lafayette, LA 70503.