Ironic End to an Improbable, Influential Life

Today, in West Virginia, a former member of the KKK will be honored at our State Capitol, with the first black President there to praise him.

Kind of remarkable. Much like the life of Robert C. Byrd.

I won’t go into the “Things I Disagree With Senator Byrd About List.” It would be a long one, but that’s not at issue today.

The longest serving Senator in U.S. history was from my home county, Raleigh. He apologized again and again for his early involvement with the Klan, and denounced them publicly, repudiating their views.

He was, by all accounts, a faithful and devoted husband to his wife, Erma. Theirs was an unusual, moving, love story. From early courtship in poverty (where a stick of gum constituted an extravagant gift) to him caring for her through Alzheimer’s. Those close to him said that he never got over her death.

He rose from poverty to the heights of public office. His death marks the end of an era in West Virginia politics. He has been in federal office about twice as long as I have been alive.

My prayers are with the Byrd family, and the many they have impacted in life.

5 Comments

  1. Today, in West Virginia, a former member of the KKK will be honored at our State Capitol, with the first black President there to praise him.

    Wow. What an intro.

  2. Well said. Senator Byrd served West Virginia for nearly half the state’s existence. Remarkable.

  3. My fondest memories of Senator Byrd is sitting with him on my Uncle Henry’s front porch in the summer. He and Uncle Henry were lifelong friends. The ice cream truck would come by and he would give me change to go and buy us ice cream. Sometimes he would play his fiddle. Good memories…

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