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Mr. Raymond Blanco
|Please click on the Tribute to Louisiana Coaches on the right side of the News Box on the Home Page for Coach Raymond Blanco's Tribute. Section I, his biography is presented below.
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Coach Raymond Blanco's Tribute
Biography of Raymond Blanco, Sr.
Written by the Raymond Blanco, Sr. Family and Submitted by Michael Neustrom, Football 1965-68 and UL Faculty & Staff Member 1970-74 & 1977-2000 and Edward Pratt, Football 1964-67 and UL Staff Member 1969-2011, on January 2, 2021.
In the fall of 1959 newly appointed Head Coach Raymond Blanco arrived at Catholic High School in New Iberia, Louisiana with a special energy and zeal for molding young men, both in the classroom and on the football field. Three years later, in 1962, this Birmingham, Alabama native coached his football team to win the first high school state championship in the Acadiana region since the advent of eleven-man football.
His talent for success was recognized and appreciated and in 1963 he left Catholic High when Coach Russ Faulkinberry recruited him to the coaching staff at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then University of Southwestern Louisiana). As Assistant Head Coach, he worked to develop community pride in UL’s football program and was a fiercely competitive recruiter. As head defensive coach he helped to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns to two Conference Championships during his six seasons at UL. He spent hours into the nights counseling his players and encouraging academic excellence.
He is proud that every four-year player on his team earned their bachelor’s degrees, and many earned advanced degrees. Although most players graduated on time, a few had to take early leave for jobs and raising families before finishing their degree requirements. He made it his mission to find these young men and convince each and every one of them to return to UL to complete their studies and graduate.
As his unique talents gained wider recognition, he was recruited by the University of Louisiana for the job that defined the next 41 years of his life. In 1968 he became the Dean of Men and was later promoted to Dean of Students. Through the years as he was asked to assume greater responsibilities, Blanco was named Vice President of Student Affairs. He respected both students and faculty and was, in turn, respected by the UL family.
His compassionate heart, coupled with acute listening skill, cast him as the leading mentor to many thousands of students, athletes, administrators, faculty and staff on campus and sometimes to their families off campus as well. He counseled them through illnesses, accidents, work issues, personal troubles or just plain mischief. During the critical and sometimes dangerous years of desegregation, he boldly and proudly established a welcoming environment at UL for African American students and was responsible for hiring the first African American staff members in several high-level positions. He maintained calm on the UL campus during the unrest of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights periods.
In the 1980’s Louisiana’s Governor and Attorney General called upon Raymond to play key roles in two critical investigations. The first was an investigation of the shooting deaths of two students on Southern University’s campus. The second called for Dean Blanco to establish ground rules for safely re-opening Destrehan High School after a racial disturbance resulted in the shooting death of a student on campus.
The Blanco era at UL spanned the administrations of four university presidents and tens of thousands of students, but Raymond Blanco’s life as Coach, Dean, and Vice-President, came to include one especially unique title: First Gentleman of the State of Louisiana.
While he gave one-hundred percent of his early life to the university, in later years his love of politics led him, along with his wife, Kathleen, to establish a family polling company which satisfied his innate curiosity for in-depth information, gave him unique insights and enabled him to accurately guide many candidates for public office who sought his counsel.
No one better exemplified his capacity to coach winning campaigns than his favorite candidate, Kathleen, his wife and mother of their six children. He coached her through campaigns for the Louisiana House of Representatives, Public Service Commission and Lieutenant Governor and then to the Grand Championship of Louisiana politics, the Governorship. Indeed, she has never lost an election, and she says it’s because of her great Coach! And “Coach” is the name the First Gentleman was known by, the title he has always loved the most.
As the first and only First Gentleman of Louisiana, Raymond Blanco supported the Governor through Louisiana’s most challenging period following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In Birmingham, Alabama, Raymond played football for John Carroll High School. He played football and graduated from St. Benedict’s College in Atchison KS (now Benedictine College). He is a first-generation college graduate who is very proud of his immigrant roots. His father came from Spain as a young man and found a home in the United States. His maternal grandfather immigrated to the United States from Italy and also made his home in this country.
He came to Louisiana in 1962 and found his own home. Now in retirement from both the University and his job as First Gentleman, Coach has time for swimming and water exercises, following his 14 grandchildren in their special endeavors, and doing a little fishing and hunting. He is still in high demand for mentoring or counseling young people and coaching candidates for public office.
Coach and Kathleen are the proud parents of 6 children: Karmen Blanco Hartfield [Jerry Hartfield], Monique Blanco Boulet [David Boulet], Nicole Blanco George [John George], Ray Blanco, Jr. [Aprill Springfield Blanco], Pilar Blanco Eble [Michael Eble] and Benedict Blanco. They are the proud grandparents of 14. Ben Blanco died in an industrial accident at 19 years old in 1997 and Kathleen Babineaux Blanco died at age 75 in 2019. Both are greatly missed.
Coach, Dean, Vice-President and First Gentleman Raymond Blanco has led a blessed life. In addition to his family, his greatest pleasure is to see those he guided become successful, productive individuals. He is much beloved for the care and compassion he demonstrated to the thousands of friends who came into his life over the past 85 years!
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Assistant Football Coach at UL in 1963-1968 on the Faulkinberry staff.
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Former Coach: How suite it is - UL Lafayette names space in Union for Raymond Blanco
louisiana.edu/news-events/news, May 24, 2019
Raymond Blanco couldn’t wait. The retired University of Louisiana at Lafayette administrator and coach lifted the black velveteen cloth to preview the plaque beneath.
The ceremony designating a suite of office space in the University’s Student Union in his honor had yet to start, but Blanco freely admitted that patience was never his forte.
But a succession of former employees at Friday’s dedication of the Raymond S. Blanco Dean of Students Suite listed other strengths he displayed – and demanded in them – during his 46-year career at the University: authenticity, compassion, fairness, and tolerance.
Dr. Joseph Savoie is the University’s president, but Blanco hired him in the 1970s as an associate dean of students. Savoie called his former boss a “master motivator.”
“His larger than life, exuberant personality, his always-in-motion demeanor often amused, sometimes confused, but always enthralled everyone he came into contact with. His nearly half-century of devotion to our students’ welfare and his faithfulness to social justice influenced thousands, and created a legacy deeply rooted in the University’s culture,” Savoie said.
Blanco joined the football coaching staff in 1963. From 1969 and 1974, he was dean of men, dean of student personnel, and dean of students. He then became vice president for Student Affairs, a position he held until his 2009 retirement.
As an administrator, Blanco initiated the Dean on Call program, which enabled students to contact a dean whenever they needed help. He was also responsible for introducing emergency call boxes on campus.
But those were public achievements. Many of the moments in which Blanco had the greatest influence on the University and its students occurred out of the spotlight, said Judy Daniels, former assistant dean of student personnel.
She went to work for Blanco shortly after her graduation in 1972. Daniels said her arrival on campus as a student in the late 1960s came amid continuing racial division. Though the University had integrated in 1954, the environment “was not good for black students” when she enrolled.
“We were not encouraged to participate. We were tolerated,” but that changed “once Dean Blanco came on board,” Daniels recounted.
Blanco replaced recalcitrant administrators who did not welcome black students. He pulled white and black students together and encouraged dialogues to increase understanding.
“He was changing the culture of the campus. And let me tell you, that wasn’t easy,” Daniels said. “His main thing was, everybody’s going to be respected. Everyone’s dignity will be respected, and everybody’s going to have a chance to have a voice.”
Blanco instilled those guiding principles in his staff, said Patricia Cottonham, the University’s current vice president for Student Affairs. She graduated from the University in 1979, then went to work for Blanco.
“He taught us lessons every day, lessons of tolerance, second chances, lessons of love and understanding. Dean Blanco was called to do the work that he did with young people. From the football field to the halls of the campus community, he was a man who believed – insisted – in justice and fairness for everyone," Cottonham said.
“He taught us that students were the most important people on campus, and we were always to treat them with dignity and respect."
Blanco and Kathleen Babineaux married in 1964. When she was elected Louisiana governor in 2003 – the first woman and only UL Lafayette graduate to hold the position – Raymond Blanco became the state’s first gentleman.
The former governor said that her husband worried during her political campaigns that his reputation would hurt her electoral chances. But that’s not what she found on the trail.
“I would meet people and they’d say, ‘Your husband saved my life.’ I heard that refrain over and over again. I kept coming back with those stories and he could just hardly believe it. Nonetheless, there was that reality out there, that he had touched so many lives in such a powerful way,” Kathleen Blanco said.
The Raymond S. Blanco Dean of Students Suite is home to the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership. It provides space for a number of campus organizations as well.
Looking at the new plaque and signage in the Student Union on Friday, Blanco, now 83, said he was touched, though slightly embarrassed, by the spotlight. “I think it’s a wonderful tribute, but it’s not my style.”
He continued: “I felt like we really got close to our students. It’s really all about them, not me.”
Photo caption: Dr. Joseph Savoie, left, president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, greets Raymond Blanco and former Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco at a ceremony Friday dedicating the Raymond S. Blanco Dean of Students Suite. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Posted by Dr. Ed Dugas, May 30, 2019.
Full story with photo and footnotes is also posted in Archived News for the above date.
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Former Football Coach: Blanco still in hospital
Tina Marie Macias • firstname.lastname@example.org • August 7, 2010
Raymond "Coach" Blanco is still recovering at Tulane Medical Center from injuries suffered in a fall last weekend in New Orleans, a family spokeswoman said Friday afternoon.
Blanco family spokeswoman Marie Centanni through and e-mail said there is no change to report in Blanco's condition.
He and his wife, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, were staying at a friend's home when the former "first gentleman" fell.
Centanni would not release more information about his condition.
Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Balyeat on Tuesday could not release any information at the request of the Blanco family.
On Tuesday Karmen Blanco, one of the Blanco's six children, said the family isn't taking calls, but appreciates the support.
"We appreciate all of the prayers and concerns," Karmen Blanco said. "We just need to have time to leave all the phone lines open for the doctors."
Kathleen Blanco, the state's first woman governor, served as governor from 2004 to 2008. The couple lives in Lafayette.
Raymond Blanco is the former UL vice president of student affairs.
He retired from UL in 2009, where he served as dean of students and in other posts. He worked at the university for nearly a half-century.
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Tina Marie Macias • email@example.com • August 4, 2010
Raymond "Coach" Blanco, former UL vice president of student affairs, is recovering at Tulane Medical Center from injuries suffered in a fall during the weekend in New Orleans.
He and his wife, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, were staying at a friend's home when he fell, Blanco family spokeswoman Marie Centanni said Tuesday morning.
Blanco was still in the hospital Tuesday evening, Centanni said. She would not release more information about his condition. Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Balyeat could not release any information at the request of the Blanco family.
Karmen Blanco, one of the Blancos' six children, was audibly upset when reached at the Tulane Medical Center on Tuesday. The family is not releasing additional details, nor are they taking calls, she said.
"We appreciate all of the prayers and concerns," Karmen Blanco said. "We just need to have time to leave all the phone lines open for the doctors and stuff like that."
Raymond Blanco retired from UL in 2009, where he served as dean of students and in other posts. He worked at the university for nearly a half-century.
Kathleen Blanco, the state's first female governor, served as governor from 2004 to 2008. The couple live in Lafayette.
|Administration:|| 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009|
|Coaches:|| 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968|
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