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Two politicians of some note passed away over the weekend.

 First, former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. died. Briscoe descended from one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence and ran the family’s ranching empire near Uvalde, Texas. At one time, the Briscoe family controlled over 600,000 acres, according to Austin American-Statesman reporter Mike Ward. 

Briscoe was elected to the Texas House in 1949 and helped begin the state’s Farm-to-Market road system that “revolutionized rural access” as well as “boosting a variety of other rural improvement programs.” He served as president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, beginning in 1960. He served as governor from 1973 to 1979.

One of the more notable events during his term was his ordering an investigation of the Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange, Texas. (Recall the ZZ Top anthem.) Briscoe reluctantly called in the state police after a Houston reporter ran a series of television stories on the Chicken Ranch. The whole affair was immortalized in Larry L. King’s play “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” 

Also, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia died early Monday. He was 92 and had serviced in the U.S. Senate since 1958.

Byrd (above) began his career as a conservative Democrat, but ended as a fierce opponent of the war In Iraq and as an opponent of the state’s coal industry.

For the story of Byrd’s life, go here

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