Memorials begin for former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s first and only female governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, is returning to the state’s ornate Capitol for her last time.

On Thursday, her casket will be carried into the building to the sound of a 21-gun salute honoring her service.

Mourners are expected to pack the Louisiana Capitol to pay their last respects to the Democrat who led the state during the massive blows of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Blanco died Sunday after a yearslong struggle with cancer. She was 76.

Public visitation at the Capitol will follow a morning interfaith service in a downtown Baton Rouge cathedral to memorialize Blanco, the start of three days of events for the former governor.

She will be buried Saturday in Lafayette, in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country.

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