Robert Carlyle Byrd was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from West Virginia from 1959 until his death in 2010. Byrd was the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress until surpassed by Representative John Dingell of Michigan. He died in office on June 28, 2010, at the age of 92, and is the oldest member of Congress to die in office. Byrd had two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
About Robert Byrd in brief
Robert Carlyle Byrd was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from West Virginia from 1959 until his death in 2010. Byrd was the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress until surpassed by Representative John Dingell of Michigan. Byrd is the last remaining member of the U.S. Senate to have served during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower. He is the only West Virginian to have serve in both chambers of the state legislature and both Chambers of Congress. Byrd died in office on June 28, 2010, at the age of 92, and is the oldest member of Congress to die in office. He was married to Erma Ora James, who was born to a coal mining family in Floyd County, Virginia. Byrd had two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He had a son and a daughter-in-law, both of whom are still alive and living in West Virginia. In the early 1940s, Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to create a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Sophia, West Virginia, to defend the American way of life against the racemixers and communists. He later renounced racism and segregation, and spoke in opposition to the Iraq War. He wrote a four-volume history of Senate precedent and parliamentary procedure in later life, and was known for his knowledge of Senate procedure. He also served as secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus from 1967 to 1971 and—after defeating his longtime colleague Ted Kennedy for the job—as Senate Majority Whip from 1971 to 1977.
As president pro tempore—a position he held four times in his career—he was third in the line of presidential succession, after the vice president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. While he filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported the Vietnam War earlier in his Career, Byrd’s views changed considerably over the course of his life. He would later completely renounce racism andgregation, and would later speak out against the Iraq war. He died at age 92 in June 2010, and he was buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, where he is buried with his wife and two daughters. He leaves behind a daughter, Erma, and a son, Robert Byrd, Jr., who is also a former U. S. Senator and served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1947 to 1950, and the West West Virginia State Senate from 1950 to 1952. Byrd served as the valedictorian of his 1934 graduating class at Stotesbury’s Mark Twain High School. He served in both houses of Congress for six years, from 1953 until 1959, before being elected to the Senate in 1958. In his later years, Byrd led the Democratic caucus in numerous roles, including Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, President protempore, and President pro Tempore emeritus. Byrd also served in three different tenures as chairman of theUnited States Senate Committee on Appropriations. He argued that the many federal projects he worked to bring to West Virginia represented progress for the people of his state.