Remembering the Historian of the Senate, Robert Byrd

SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, 1917-2010

  • Remembering Robert Byrd: The longest-serving senator in U.S. history dies at 92 – Time
  • Video: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, 1917-2010: Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, has died at the age of 92. Whit Johnson reports. (CBS News) WaPo
  • Sen. Robert C. Byrd, champion of the Constitution and his home state, dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, an orphan from the West Virginia coal fields who served more than half a century in the Senate and used his canny, masterful knowledge of the institution to protect its rules, shape the federal budget and, above all else, tend to the interests of his impoverished state, died Monday. He was 92…. – WaPo, 6-28-10
  • Longest-serving US Senator dies: U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who evolved from a segregationist to a civil rights advocate in becoming the longest serving member ever of the Congress, died on Monday. First elected in 1952, Byrd was 92…. – Reuters, 6-28-10
  • Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd served 51 years in the United States Senate, longer than anyone else in history, and with his six years in the House of Representatives, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. But it was how he used that record tenure that made him a pillar of Capitol Hill — fighting, often with florid words, for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and building, always with canny political skills, a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money….
    “America has lost a voice of principle and reason,” the president said. – NYT, 6-28-10
  • U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd — 1917-2010: Senator Robert C. Byrd, a son of West Virginia coal country who used his mastery of Senate rules and a taste for hardball tactics to become a passionate and often feared advocate for the state and the Senate he loved, died Monday at age 92. As the Senate opened Monday, Byrd’s desk was draped in black cloth with a bowl of white roses. Flags outside the White House and the Capitol flew at half-staff. … He served longer and cast more votes than any senator in history… – Register Herald, 6-28-10
  • Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92: Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died at about 3 a.m. Monday, his office said. He was 92.
    He had been in failing health for several years. Mr. Byrd served 51 years in the Senate, longer than anyone in American history, and with his six years in the House, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. He held a number of Senate offices, including majority and minority leader and president pro tem. But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power of the purse — a post he gave up only last year as his health declined. A New Deal Democrat, Mr. Byrd used the position in large part to battle persistent poverty in West Virginia, which he called “one of the rock bottomest of states.”… – NYT, 6-28-10
  • Sen. Robert C. Byrd: Longest-serving senator embodied changes in U.S.: ….In many ways, Sen. Byrd embodied the changes the nation has undergone in the past half century. A onetime segregationist and opponent of civil rights legislation, he evolved into a liberal hero as one of the earliest, unrepentant and most vocal foes of the Iraq war and a supporter of the rights of gays to serve in the military. He was the acknowledged Senate Renaissance man, who could recite poetry by memory for hours and yet be ruthless in advancing his legislative agenda. In many ways a throwback to an era of powerful orators like Henry Clay or John C. Calhoun, the stiff and formal Sen. Byrd could speak at great length with fire and passion, mixing references to the Roman Empire with emotional memories of his almost seven decades with his late wife Erma…. – AP, 6-28-10
  • Constitutional Scholar, Senate Elder Statesman Robert Byrd Remembered: Gwen Ifill reports on the life and legacy of West Virginia’s Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving member in the history of Congress. Byrd died Monday at the age of 92… – PBS Newshour, 6-28-10
  • Former reporter remembers Byrd’s first office run: But John B. “Jack” Van Dyke remembers a West Virginia House of Delegates candidate in a messy butcher’s apron — “a guy by the name of Robert C. Byrd.” “He said, ‘There’s a guy by the name of Robert C. Byrd. I want you to go interview him,'” Van Dyke recalled. The young reporter walked into the grocery store, asked where he could find “Mr. Robert Byrd” and was sent to the meat counter. “He was cutting up chicken and wearing a bloody apron,” Van Dyke said. “He had on a white cap like I had worn in the Army overseas, but in a different color. There was one black lock of hair showing. ” “I told him who I was, and he said, ‘Give me five minutes.’ … Then, I interviewed Robert Carlyle Byrd, a butcher at the store.”… – Register-Herald, 6-30-10
  • Senate Stalwart Returns to Chamber One Last Time: Senator Robert C. Byrd made one last visit to the Senate floor on Thursday to allow his colleagues, staff members and the public to bid him a Capitol farewell after his death Monday at 92. The flag-draped casket of Mr. Byrd was positioned on the Lincoln Catafalque in the well of the Senate, where for decades Mr. Byrd had argued his case as he sought money for his poor state of West Virginia, challenged presidents, opposed the Iraq war and sought to uphold the traditions and trappings of the Senate.
    “Lord, we appreciate his wit and wisdom, his stories and music, as well as his indefatigable commitment to the principles of freedom that made American great,” Dr. Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, said during a prayer in a private ceremony for senators and family before the doors to the Senate chamber were opened… – NYT, 7-1-10

Senator Robert C. Byrd filing his papers for reelection with

WV Archives
Senator Robert C. Byrd filing his papers for reelection with Secretary of State Joe Burdett, 1964.
  • Sen. Byrd viewing in WV goes into wee hours: They came by the thousands to pay their respects to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and they kept trickling in past midnight and into the early morning hours Friday to honor a statesman, a scholar and, above all, a proud West Virginian…. – AP, 7-2-10
  • Byrd memorial scheduled today: Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to lead a memorial service today for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who died Monday at age 92. Byrd’s casket has been lying in the Capitol in Charleston overnight, for viewing by the public.
    On Thursday the Senate bid farewell to Byrd. He lay in repose on the Senate floor for six hours while his colleagues and Capitol Hill staffers lined up to pay their final respects. A private funeral is set for Tuesday in Arlington, Va. – AP, 7-2-10
  • Washington begins paying final respects to Robert Byrd: Senators spent Thursday morning paying their final respects to the man they called their dean. Family, friends, colleagues and admirers of Sen. Robert Byrd, the senate’s longest serving member, began what will be a long goodbye honoring the man who was elected to the chamber in 1958 and served through 11 presidential administrations…. – WaPo, 7-1-10
  • The opinions of Sen. Robert Byrd: Featured here are some of the opinion columns that Sen. Robert Byrd wrote for The Post during his tenure on Capitol Hill. Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress, died June 28, 2010 at age 92… – WaPo
  • Byrd’s hometown remembers him fondly: The town of Sophia has a population of just 1200 – a small, tight-knit community that is grieving a very personal loss with the death of Robert C. Byrd. “Oh everybody in town is distraught,” said Mayor Danny Barr. “But today I think he’s in heaven with his wife Erma and the Lord carried him back home.” Barr said the citizens of Sophia have always retained a genuine affection for Robert Byrd. “The town will remember him as its favorite son. He always called Sophia his home.” “Byrd was like the rest of us, we were all poor,” he said. “We were all coal mining people, it was just a tough, tough life for everybody.”… – WV PubCast, 6-29-10
  • HNN Hot Topics: Robert Byrd, the Historian’s SenatorHNN
  • Raleigh County historian Scott Worley said he’ll remember Byrd as a teacher: “He had a wonderful sense of community and history. He wanted people to know and be reminded of their history,” said Worley. “So not only was he the wonderful statesman, he was a wonderful teacher, he wanted us to keep learning from our history,” he said…. – WV PubCast, 6-29-10

The coffin of Senator Robert C. Byrd lay in repose in U.S. Capitol  on Thursday.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times The coffin of Senator Robert C. Byrd lay in repose in the Capitol on Thursday.
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