New Orleans’ longtime coroner retiring at age 84

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Longtime Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard won’t run for an 11th term, after all.

The 84-year-old coroner filed a notarized form Monday asking Louisiana’s secretary of state to drop his name from the Feb. 1 ballot.

Minyard — an off-hours amateur jazz musician whose campaign posters showed him playing trumpet — has been coroner for 40 years.

He scheduled a news conference Monday.

“I still love the job, but the position needs young blood, somebody who’s computer literate,” Minyard told WWL-TV (http://bit.ly/1gS2Wcf). “I feel like it would be selfish for me to continue.”

Minyard’s medical training is as an obstetrician-gynecologist. So is that of political newcomer Vincent Culotta Jr., one of three remaining candidates.

The others are Minyard’s deputy, forensic psychiatrist Jeffrey Rouse; and Dwight McKenna, an internist, surgeon and former school board member who has challenged Minyard several times.

Minyard, whose term ends March 31, said he’s endorsing Rouse.

“He’s a good man with a good moral fiber,” Minyard said. “I think he’d be perfect for the position.”

Until Hurricane Katrina, Minyard said, he had meant to retire in 2006. The storm flooded the morgue in the city’s criminal courthouse, and Minyard said he felt obliged to get his office up and running.

For eight years, autopsies have been done in a converted funeral home. It’s so cramped that bodies are kept outside, in refrigerated trucks.

One of Minyard’s legacies to his successor will be a state-of-the-art coroner’s office. It’s under construction.

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