METAIRIE—Former state Senator Ken Hollis, who worked to keep the Saints in New Orleans, bring legalized gambling to Louisiana and establish state-sponsored property insurance, has died. He was 68.
He died Friday morning of cancer at Ochsner Medical Center, his family said. A funeral service will be held at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home on Monday. A memorial service is planned for Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
"For over two decades he represented the citizens of District 9 with determination, commitment and compassion. Ken truly loved his service in the Louisiana Senate," Senate President Joel Chaisson said in a statement. "His passion for public service and his hard work to make Louisiana a better place for all of our citizens will be truly missed."
He sponsored the bill that established the Louisiana Lottery and pushed for video poker and casino gambling.
In 2001, he responded to rumors that owner Tom Benson might move the team out of New Orleans with a grassroots campaign called Save Our Saints.
Hollis also was proud of his earliest legislation, which banned an earnings tax on nonresidents working in New Orleans, and of getting state support for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, his family wrote.
Hollis was born and raised in Alexandria. His father was a car dealer. After graduating from Louisiana Tech University in 1964 he went into insurance, eventually creating Hollis Companies, which specializes in employee benefits.
He also backed the bill creating the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to handle property insurance for people unable to get other property coverage.
Hollis spent two years on the Jefferson Parish Council before running for the state Senate.
Survivors include his wife, Diane, two sisters, three sons and three stepdaughters.