KLTV/AP - Former U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, a Democrat who spent 42 years representing his Southeast Texas district, has died at age 89.
A Jefferson County Sheriff's Department statement says Brooks died Tuesday night at Baptist Hospital of Beaumont after a sudden illness. Deputy Rod Carroll says Brooks, who would have turned 90 on Dec. 18, was surrounded by family when he died.
Brooks was among the last links to an era when Democrats dominated Texas and national politics. He first took office when legendary fellow Texan Sam Rayburn was House speaker and Lyndon Johnson was Senate majority leader.
Brooks was in the Dallas motorcade Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was aboard Air Force One later that day when Johnson took the oath of office.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa releases the following statement:
Yesterday we lost a great American, a great Texan, and a great Democrat.
Jack Brooks served the people of Southeast Texas in the State House for six years, and in the United States Congress for 42 years. During his long and distinguished service he was a champion for working families and equal rights.
A veteran of the Pacific Theater in WWII, this "fighting Marine" helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Brooks exhibited political courage and paved the way for the world we live in today.
I join with Democrats throughout Texas in paying our humble respect to Congressman Jack Brooks. Texas and the United States are better for his service. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brooks family.
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