Hundreds attend the funeral for former Mayor Moon Landrieu
White House staff, other dignitaries were in attendance
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Church bells rang and hundreds streamed into the church on Loyola University’s campus for the funeral of former Mayor Moon Landrieu. Landrieu died this week age of the age of 92.
Politicians current and former lined up next to average citizens to get into the Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church for the mass.
Mitch Landrieu, who followed in his father’s footsteps to also serve two terms as mayor , gave the eulogy.
“My father’s life was pretty simple, although it was very hard to do what it is that he did,” said Landrieu.
Moon Landrieu was New Orleans’ 56th mayor. He served two terms as the city’s top leader from 1970 to 1978 and kept a bold campaign promise to integrate top-level positions in city government.
Before being elected mayor Landrieu was a state legislator and he stood up to pro-segregation forces at the state capitol.
“He was 29 years old, he’d just gotten into the legislature, governor, my mother was home with four young children under five years old and she was pregnant with me. My father had no one, he didn’t have a group that supported him, he didn’t know anybody, he didn’t have any money, he had a small law practice with Pascal Calogero, who was going to be, later the chief justice and when the governor tried to pass the segregation package this skinny lil boy told up and said, no,” Mitch Landrieu said during his eulogy.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond officiated the funeral.
“He wanted to do what was right in God’s eyes, unity and not division. May I suggest that we can carry on his life, his spirit by living in the same way,” said Aymond.
Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu is the eldest of the Moon and Verna’s nine children.
She read scriptures from the Bible during the mass.
“There is an appointed time for everything,” said Mary Landrieu. “A time to weep a time to laugh, a time to mourn.”
Mitch Landrieu recalled visiting his father as his health failed.
MOON LANDRIEU REMEMBERED
“And as he began to fade away from us, all of us had magical experiences from when my daddy woke up and he recognizes us, one of the last things he said to me was what are you doing here? I say well I came to see you, he said don’t you have a country to run, he said son, I got this and he said keep doing hard things,” he said.
Mitch Landrieu serves in the administration of President Joe Biden.
He said his father dedicated his life to helping others.
“I don’t ever remember my daddy asking for anything on his own, he was not a material man. If you asked him to buy a nice pair of pants he said, no. If you thought he needed a new suit, I didn’t,” said Mitch Landrieu.
Still, many say what the elder Landrieu gave them was invaluable.
Bob Tucker was one of the African Americans Landrieu hired after becoming mayor.
“I was the first executive assistant African American that he brought into the administration when we came in 1970,” said Tucker. “Moon was a social justice soldier there was no forbidden territory for him.”
Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy also worked for Landrieu as a city department head.
“Moon gave me my first government job and taught me a lot about public service and from there you know I was able to be successful in every election that I had and he contributed a lot to the city. And I think he was a mentor for many of us,” Barthelemy stated.
Longtime New Orleans Assessor Errol Williams was also in attendance.
“I came to city hall in 1975 it was because of him that I was able to work on my first audit engagement, okay, because most of the companies at that time didn’t want to have anything to do with assigning a black accountant to the audit of their financial statements so I owe him a lot of homage for that,” said Williams.
And Landrieu inspired others who were too young to work at city hall when he took office. Judge Kern Reese is one of them.
“I met Mayor Landrieu when he was first elected in 1970, he came and spoke at St. Augustine High School when I was a senior and talked to us about opportunities and doing your best and trying to achieve everything that you could,” said Reese.
Councilman Oliver Thomas praised Landrieu for coming to recreational activities when he was a child.
“I don’t think we could ever say goodbye to Moon Landrieu, I think every day that we get up especially as an African American elected official and public servant, every day any of us get up we say hello to him,” said Thomas.
Mary Landrieu commented on behalf of her family, along with one of her nieces and nephews.
“The family is just so honored and really just overwhelmed, the outpouring of support and love and the most amazing stories about his life. You know one thing I want people to know, and I think they understood is that my father just every day just wanted to be the best human being he could be, I mean that’s how he woke up every day. How can I be the best for me today?” she said.
As mayor, Moon Landrieu pushed to have the Superdome built and is credited with elevating New Orleans’ status as a tourism destination.
After his tenure as mayor ended, he served as U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary for President Jimmy Carter.
“But thinking about what he did to assist New Orleans after he left as a cabinet secretary, you know, we continue to flourish in this community because of Moon Landrieu,” said Judge Roland Belsome.
And although he had many accomplishments family is what meant most to Moon Landrieu.
“I would try to talk to him about all of his accomplishments, but dad you remember you did this and that. Mary Landrieu the thing I’m most proud of are you, the children, and my grandchildren, so forget the kids, it’s the grandkids (laugh) that he was so proud of and his great-grandson,” said Mary Landrieu.
Adam Landrieu is one of his grandsons.
“He always told us that he was proud of us which really hits hard. I got into law school recently and I gave him a call, him and maw-maw a call and I have his voice recording saying I’m just so proud of you and I’ve listened to it over and over again and it makes my heart warm,” said.
Granddaughter Erica Sensenbrenner Bergeron spoke of the lessons he taught them about life and his love for ice cream.
“I think we can say everything we need to know in life we learned from paw-paw, he taught us to treat others with respect, that our ideas and our opinions matter but so do those of others, and you know, just to work hard and there’s always a good time for an ice cream cone,” she said.
Mary Landrieu chimed in with laughter, “Which was his favorite.” Bergeron added, “Lunch, dinner, dessert, it doesn’t matter.”
Attorney Walter Leger who served on the state’s recovery authority board after Hurricane Katrina says Landrieu’s devotion to family is a huge part of his legacy.
“The impact he’s had on individuals and families, the inspiration he’s given as a parent as a father, to me, is what stands out,” said Leger.
Landrieu is survived by his wife Verna, nine children and their spouses, 37 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.
His coffin was carried from the church by his children.
A private burial followed the funeral.
WATCH THE FULL FUNERAL BELOW
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