Marion Edwards, brother of ex-governor, dead at 84

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Marion Edwards, an amiable, wisecracking political operative and businessman who shared numerous triumphant political campaigns as well as a courtroom defense table with his older brother, four-time Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, died Saturday at his home in Broussard, La.

He was 84.

Family friend and spokeswoman Bonnie Warren in New Orleans said the family did not release a cause of death but noted that Edwards was a cancer survivor who often made efforts to counsel other cancer patients over the years.

Edwin Edwards did not immediately respond to requests for comment made through family members and friends.

In contrast to his silver-haired, dapper older brother, Marion was balding, often frail-looking and less often in the spotlight. Still, he displayed his brother's trademark sense of humor and audacity. After both were indicted by a federal grand jury in an alleged health care scheme in 1985, prosecutors labeled Marion a "bag man" for his brother. Marion lampooned the characterization during "media night' at a French Quarter bar, walking in with a shopping bag atop his head like a crown, tossing phony $100 bills.

Both men were acquitted in the 1980s case, which took place during Edwin Edwards' second term. The former governor would eventually serve prison time on federal corruption charges stemming from a riverboat licensing scheme in his fourth term. He was released in 2011.

Marion was part of the campaign when Edwin, a populist Democrat who had been constitutionally barred from a third consecutive term in 1979, came roaring back to power with a landslide win over Republican Gov. Dave Treen in 1983. And he was part of the entourage that headed to Paris the next year, a trip arranged by the campaign to raise money to pay off a $4 million campaign debt.

The year 1983 also held tragedy for the family. Another brother, attorney Nolan Edwards, was shot to death by a former client in 1983, bringing a jarring halt to the politicking and resulting in the campaign's most sobering photo: a distant view of Edwin and Marion, locked in an embrace on an airport tarmac.

A statement released by his family said Marion Edwards is survived by his wife Deborah "Penny" Meaux Edwards, his three children from his first marriage to Aline Luther Edwards: Wanda Edwards, Elizabeth Kersten and Donna Edwards.

Edwin Edwards is the last surviving sibling from a group that also included a sister, Audrey Isbell, and a brother, Allan Edwards.

Visitation will be held in the Edwards' home town of Crowley at Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home on Monday from 2 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday from 8 to 10 a.m. The funeral will be held at the First Church of the Nazarene in Crowley, on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The family asked that, In lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Marion D. Edwards Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology, at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston or Hospice of Acadiana in Lafayette.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)