A legend among Southeast Texas lawmakers, Jack Brooks, has died at age 89.

The former Democratic U.S. Representative from Beaumont spent 42 years in Congress during an era when Democrats still dominated Texas politics. Brooks was a protégé of Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn and a supporter of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and later president Lyndon Johnson.

Brooks represented the 2nd District of Texas from 1953 through 1966 and the 9th District from 1967 through 1994.

When President John F. Kennedy visited Texas in 1963, Brooks was a part of the president’s motorcade in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated. Brooks can be seen in the historic photograph of Vice President Johnson taking the presidential oath of office on Air Force One hours after the shooting.

He is also a major figure in the history of Lamar University. Brooks played a significant role in the passage of the legislation that created Lamar State College of Technology, which later became Lamar University.

Lamar named a dormitory in honor of Brooks, and the federal courthouse in Beaumont also bears his name.

Brooks would have turned 90 on Dec. 18. He died Dec. 4 at Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital after a sudden illness.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Montagne Center at Lamar University.


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