Jack Brooks, Longtime Texas Congressman, Dies at 89

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 07:08 AM

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Jack Brooks, who spent 42 years in Congress representing his Southeast Texas district and was in the Dallas motorcade in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, has died. He was 89.

Brooks died Tuesday night at Baptist Hospital of Beaumont after a sudden illness, according to a statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Brooks, who would have turned 90 on Dec. 18, was surrounded by family when he died, Deputy Rod Carroll said.

Brooks was among the last links to an era when Democrats dominated Texas politics and was the last of "Mr. Sam's Boys," protégés of fellow Texan and legendary 21-year Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn in the state's congressional delegation.

"I'm just like old man Rayburn," Brooks, from Beaumont, once said. "Just a Democrat, no prefix or suffix."

He also was a contemporary and supporter of Lyndon Johnson, who was U.S. Senate majority leader in the 1950s and later president.

Brooks was in the Dallas motorcade Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. He's in the famous photo taken later that day aboard Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field, standing immediately behind the grief-stricken Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson, his right hand raised, takes the oath of office from U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes.

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