Edith Kirkpatrick, arts and music patron dies at 95

Edith Kirkpatrick, a former member of the Louisiana Board of Regents and longtime patron of classical music in Baton Rouge, died Tuesday morning at Baton Rouge General Medical Center due to complications from cancer.

“She was a very strong dedicated, gracious person who loved her church, who loved her family and her community, who dedicated her life to those areas, all the way up to a week ago,” said her youngest son, Kris Kirkpatrick.

Edith Kirkpatrick, 95, was born in Lisbon, near Homer, “a town of 125 people, and that’s on a good day,” her son said.

She graduated in 1938 from Louisiana College in Pineville with a bachelor’s degree in music. That’s also where she met her husband, Claude Kirkpatrick.

After graduation, at age 20, she traveled to New York City for study at the Julliard School of Music. Kris Kirkpatrick said his mother returned to Louisiana to get married and have a family, later obtaining a master’s degree in music from LSU.

She went on to help found the Youth Orchestra of the Baton Rouge Symphony, and over the years, she was active with a number of organizations, including the Baton Rouge Arts Council, the Community Fund for the Arts and the LSU School of Music.

Kris Kirkpatrick said his mother was an active member of the congregation of University Baptist Church and was the first woman to serve on the executive board for the Southern Baptist Church denomination, the forerunner to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Her husband, Claude Kirkpatrick, who died in 1997, was once a state representative and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1963. He was an administrator, then president of Baton Rouge General from 1967 to 1981.

Edith Kirkpatrick followed her husband into politics in the ’70s when Gov. Edwin Edwards appointed her to the Louisiana College Board of Trustees, then named her in 1977 to the Louisiana Board of Regents, where she served for 12 years.

A wake is planned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at University Baptist Church, 5775 Highland Road, with a visitation at the church at 10 a.m. Friday until a religious service at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Greenoaks Memorial Park, 9595 Florida Blvd.

She is also survived by her daughter, Kay Kirkpatrick. She is preceded in death by her eldest son, Col. Thomas Kirkpatrick, who passed away in 2009.