SENATOR ROBERT C BYRD
United States Senator The Honorable Robert C. Byrd 1917-2010
Biography of Robert C. Byrd
Compiled by Nora Edinger, regional editor
The senator said he is particularly proud of helping acquire black lung disability coverage for miners, protecting the Retired Miners' Health Care Fund, advancing the state's corridor highway system, expanding veteran's Medicare programming throughout the state, directing funding to clean water systems for rural areas, and bringing thousands of new jobs to the thousands of new jobs to the state through institutions such as the FBI center in Clarksburg. He is also known for creation of the academic-based national Robert C. Byrd Honor Scholarship, which has been awarded to 83,000 students.
His name and/or funding influence are also associated with a number of regional institutions such as West Virginia University's Health Sciences Center in Morgantown, a manufacturing training center in Bridgeport, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration facility in Fairmont, the Army's Camp Dawson in Preston County and the Department of Defense's Biometrics Fusion Center, which will soon come to Clarksburg.
Byrd has been in continual political office since 1947. His tenure has included the state House of Delegates, 1947 - 1950; state Senate 1951 - 1952; U.S. House of Representatives, 1959 - present. He has been Senate majority and minority leader, as well as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Twice, he has been elected by his colleagues as president pro tempore, a position that placed him third in line to the presidency. He became the third longest serving congressman, at 50 years, two months and 14 days. (The top two are Rep. Jamie L. Whitten, D-Miss., and Sen. Carl T. Hayden, D-Ariz.)
West Virginia's senior senator once wanted to be a draftsman or engineer. He's worked at jobs including filling station attendant, produce salesman, meat cutter and ship welder.
Byrd earned a law degree from American University in 1963 by attending night school while serving in Congress. He later received a bachelor's degree from Marshall University.
Robert C. Byrd was born on November 20, 1917, in North Wilkesboro, N.C. He was adopted by relatives in West Virginia after his mother died from influenza when he was 1. Byrd is married to his high school sweetheart, Erma Ora Byrd. They have two daughters, Mona Byrd (Mohammed Fatemi) and
Marjorie Byrd (Jon Moore), and six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Robert C. Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, was a Senator for 51 years and a member of the House for 6, making him the longest-serving member of the Senate and Congress in U.S. history. He died on June 28, 2010, at the age of 92.