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May 23, 2006

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330.

In Memoriam: Former U.S. Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen, '42, 1921-2006

Lloyd M. Bentsen
Lloyd M. Bentsen

AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas School of Law alum Lloyd M. Bentsen, whose distinguished career included 28 years in Congress and two in the Clinton Cabinet, died Tuesday, May 23, in Houston. He was 85.

Bentsen, who suffered a stroke in 1999, died of natural causes at his home.

President Bill Clinton is expected to deliver the eulogy in Houston on Tuesday, May 30. Funeral services will be at noon at First Presbyterian Church of Houston, 5300 Main St. The service is open to the public; the sanctuary has space for 750 people.

Bentsen was one of the most powerful and respected members of the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1971 until his appointment by President Bill Clinton as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 1993. In 1988, he was the Democratic Party nominee for vice president of the United States.

At UT Law, where Bentsen graduated in 1942, an endowed chair was established in Bentsen’s name in December 2001 by his friends. The Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law was created to attract and retain outstanding teachers and scholars.

Lloyd Millard Bentsen Jr. was born Feb. 11, 1921, in Mission, Texas. After graduating from law school, Bentsen distinguished himself in World War II by flying combat missions for the Army in B-24s over Europe with the 449th Bomb Group. At age 23, he was promoted to major and a squadron commander. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the Army Air Corps', and now the Air Force's, highest commendations for valor. He was also awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters that represented specific campaigns for which he was decorated. He was promoted to colonel in the Air Force Reserves before completing his military service.

Bentsen began his career in public service in 1946 as a Texas county judge—the youngest ever. He went on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948, becoming the youngest member of Congress at age 27. In the mid-fifties, Bentsen did not seek re-election but returned to private life and business in Texas where he started an insurance company and a consulting business, and became a millionaire. It wasn’t until 1970 that Bentsen re-entered politics where he ran a successful campaign for the Senate.

After retiring from government service, he joined the firm of Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson and Hand as a shareholder in February 1995. In 1999, Bentsen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Clinton.

In 2001, the Law School honored Senator Bentsen with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the legal profession and his remarkable record of public service to the state and the nation.

Bentsen and his wife, Beryl Ann, known as B.A. to friends, had two sons and a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

Related Links:
Senator Bentsen, '42, Honored with Endowed Chair:
Austin American-Statesman Article:
Dallas Morning News Article:
Houston Chronicle Article: