BEAUMONT, Texas — 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 in 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.
Brooks, first elected to the House in his far Southeast Texas district in 1952, was returned to office 20 more times and was on the verge of becoming the dean of the U.S. House when he was ousted in the Republican revolution of 1994.
“I’m just like old man Rayburn," Brooks, from Beaumont, once said. “Just a Democrat, no prefix or suffix."