- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Blanche Francis, a civic activist and community leader in New Orleans for more than five decades and wife of Xavier University president emeritus Norman Francis, has died.

Xavier University, in a statement Tuesday, confirmed Francis died Monday at her home in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood of respiratory arrest, a complication of dementia. She was 89.

Norman Francis cited his wife’s failing health as one reason he decided to retire in 2014.

The university posted a tribute to Francis on its website, calling her the “first lady of Xavier.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement said his prayers were with the Francis family. He says Francis was “seen as a caregiver to many. … As a kid, Mrs. Blanche took all of us under her wings.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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