WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member of the U.S. Senate, a fiery orator and hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to his beloved West Virginia, died Monday. He was 92.
A spokesman for the family, Jesse Jacobs, said that Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. He had been in the hospital since late last week.
At first Byrd was believed to be suffering from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, but other medical conditions developed. He had been in frail health for several years.
A man of humble, Depression-era upbringing, Byrd held his seat for over 50 years, working tirelessly all that time to make sure his state never missed out on its share — or even more, in some cases — of the federal largesse. He was the Senate’s majority leader for six of those years and was third in the line of succession to the presidency, behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Flags at the Capitol and the White House flew at half-staff Monday as Washington mourned Byrd’s passing. Byrd’s desk in Senate chamber was draped in black.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a fellow West Virginian in the Senate, said it was his “greatest privilege” to serve with Byrd.
“I looked up to him, I fought next to him, and I am deeply saddened that he is gone,” Rockefeller said.
He was a man who could inspire me to stand up and cheer one minute…and infuriate the hell out of me the next. R.I.P, Bobby…you’ll never know how much you’ll be missed.
There are a great number of tributes out there to the late Senator—but this one at Brilliant at Breakfast is the one I wish I’d written.