For about 10 weeks, former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards lay buried in a Baton Rouge cemetery. For Trina Edwards, his 43-year-old widow, that was far too long.
“I would go out there and I would try to walk out to the graveside, and I just couldn’t make myself get out of the car. I just hated it,” she recalled in a radio interview Monday. “So I just decided that I wanted to bring him back home.”
That is exactly what she did.
She had the former Democratic governor’s corpse exhumed, and later cremated, she explained in an Oct. 3 Facebook post. Now, his remains sit on a nightstand at her home on a golf course near Gonzales, Louisiana, the Advocate reported.
Once her husband’s remains were back home, Trina Edwards “felt an overwhelming sense of relief and I got the closure I was so desperately searching for,” she wrote in her Facebook post.
While she says she has no regrets about pulling him out of the plot, his children disagree.
The episode has angered the former governor’s three eldest children, who have been feuding with Trina Edwards since at least July, when Edwin Edwards died of respiratory problems at 93. The children accused his wife of excluding them from funeral plans and then not reserving seats for them at the service.
“I sat in the back,” Stephen Edwards told the Advocate. “I took the first seat that was available.”
Then came the news several months later that Trina had exhumed and cremated their father’s remains. Anna Edwards, the oldest child, told the Advocate that she learned about it via text message.
“The word for me is astonished and horrified,” she told the paper.
Referred to by some as the “Cajun King,” Edwin Washington Edwards was a longtime Louisiana politician who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and then four terms as governor, his last term ending in 1996. In May 2000, Edwards was convicted of taking bribes in exchange for riverboat casino licenses during his last term as governor. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served eight.
While he was serving his sentence, Trina Grimes Scott started writing him letters. The letters turned into regular visits, and visits turned into a marriage, the widow explained in a radio interview. “I never intended to date or marry him, but I was just interested in meeting him because so many people had so many great things to say,” she recalled.
In 2013, the couple starred in a reality television show, “The Governor’s Wife,” which aired on A&E and lasted one season. That year they also had a son, Eli.
Trina Edwards told the Advocate that her husband told her to decide what to do with his remains after he died. In a Monday interview on the radio show “Talk Louisiana,” she said her husband had reserved a burial plot but, for reasons she did not explain, she was “not allowed” to bury him there. So she had to make a quick decision to bury him in the “easiest, most available place,” a plot that would always be “temporary,” she added.
But she quickly regretted the decision, she explained, and had the body removed.
Trina Edwards said that her husband never discussed his burial plans with his children, but they dispute that, according to the Advocate. Stephen Edwards told the paper his father, a World War II-era Navy veteran, often said Port Hudson National Cemetery was where he wanted to be buried. Anna Edwards also recalled conversations with her father about his burial plans.
“He did not like the idea of being cremated,” she told the Advocate. “He thought it was abominable.”
Trina Edwards told the paper that she plans to eventually place her husband’s ashes in a public place. During her “Talk Louisiana” interview, the widow remained resolute in her decisions.
“I can’t live my life worried about what other people think or say — or want, for that matter,” she said. “That may sound selfish, but … I’m his surviving widow. It was my right to do that, and I did exactly what I wanted to do, and I have no regrets about it.”