and his first wife Shirley. Since then, she has collected all sorts of affectionate memories of the gatherings. It had gotten so bad that Gayle had written up a list reminding the twice-widowed Benson why he should be aggrieved — not just toward Rita, but also his grandson Ryan and his daughter Renee. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive), Dinner party for Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu hosted by Ashton Phelps Jr. and The Times-Picayune at Antoine's Restaurant April 21, 2010. So far, LeBlanc has done neither marriage nor babies. The Saints on Thursday kicked off their first training camp with Gayle Benson as owner. "I never tried to push her into it or anything," Benson says. "Just one thing after another. That doesn't feel very American to me. LeBlanc's beloved Great Aunt Nonnie, otherwise known as Anna Bell Currie, is quick to set straight anyone who has the nerve to think along such lines. That episode has long been viewed as the final straw in the family rift. The LeBlancs’ attorneys argued that Benson’s comments were “bizarre outbursts,” and signs of something wrong. Associated Press file photo by GERALD HERBERT -- Tom Benson poses with wife Gayle Benson, and granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc before the 49ers game with the Saints in November. "Yes, I'm next in line to take over," LeBlanc says. (Photo by Alex Brandon, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive), NBA Commissioner David Stern is honored with a Pelicans jersey at center court between the first and second quarters with Mayor Mitch Landrieu, from left, Gov. Gayle Benson said under oath that she wrote the list at his request. When she started going to the meetings, there were about five other women in the room. "With other sports leagues, the team that has the most money wins. No one will ever be quite convinced that she would have gotten the job on her own. Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Rita LeBlanc, grand daughter of Tom Benson, follows her lawyer Randy Smith into the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans, La. A good part of LeBlanc's professional life -- and much of her social life as well -- is taken up with civic initiatives. Attorney Phil Wittmann, right, who represents Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, arrives at Civil District Court in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb.10, 2015. "I can be social, but in the office, I like the pragmatic structural planning.". (Photo by John McCusker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive), Saints owner Tom Benson second-lines on the field with his granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc, left, and wife Gayle, right, after the team won the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings at the Louisiana Superdome Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010. Benson’s camp replied that they merely demonstrated he was following the trial testimony closely — and disagreeing strongly with some of it. "I just think she hadn't figured out how to deal with people.". Hold on, Mr. Benson,” Reese said at one point. At one point, Benson shouted, “Lying bastard!” as one of three psychiatrists who had examined him testified. "She sits on all these boards," he says. Some aspects of NFL culture have changed since LeBlanc's early experiences. Rita LeBlanc, Benson’s granddaughter, had been feuding with his wife, Gayle. And her future role as the head of the organization is no longer in doubt. A day after his death, Benson’s camp filed it with Reese. New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants in the Superdome October 18, 2009. And he announced, “I’m going to kick your ass,” according to the filings, although it’s not clear whom he was addressing. Ownership of the franchise is restricted to Benson and several family members. One former Saints executive who answered to her -- Mike Feder, a sales and marketing executive who became general manager of the team's Arena Football franchise, the VooDoo -- chafed at her hands-on management style and resigned shortly after Fielkow's departure in 2005. The move, which seemed sudden to the public, kicked off a convoluted legal battle pitting Benson against his daughter and her children, who once had been in line to inherit everything but were now fired from their jobs with his businesses and cut off from the head of the family. She appears to be well-organized and in control. She is most comfortable working inside her head, away from the public eye. In her early days on the Saints staff, fresh out of college, LeBlanc was assigned to work for a while with Lauscha, the team's chief financial officer, so she could get to know the financial end of the business. ... She high-fives the man on her right and hugs the woman on her left. Saints co-owners Rita Benson LeBlanc and her grandfather Tom Benson. "She thinks she could take over today. "That's the plan," says the (then) 82-year-old Benson, who had cancer surgery in December (2008). So is she ready? You've also got the Saints board of trustees, which includes Benson; LeBlanc; her brother Ryan; Lauscha; Loomis; Stanley Rosenberg, Benson's longtime attorney and adviser; and Tom Roddy, who oversees Benson's car dealerships and banks. "I know she's intelligent," Feder says. "It's been a wonderful room to experience -- and many legendary businessmen to get to know.". National media outlets are asking a New Orleans court to unseal confidential motions and other documents filed when estranged relatives of lat…, Other questions:firstname.lastname@example.org. The first time LeBlanc attended an NFL owners meeting was in the 1990s in Chicago. Associated Press file photo by GERALD HERBERT -- Tom Benson poses with wife Gayle Benson, and granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc before the 49ers game with the Saints in November. (Photo by Alex Brandon, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive), The New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, with his grand daughter Rita LeBlanc before the St. Louis Rams game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Sunday,Oct. Editor's Note: This profile of Rita Benson LeBlanc -- who joined her family in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 22) alleging that her grandfather, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, is unfit to manage his sports empire -- was written by former Times-Picayune staff writer Elizabeth Mullener and published July 26, 2009.
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