Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe dies

Former Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr., at a press conference
Former Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr., at a press conference

Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. died Sunday after a long illness, according to the Associated Press. He was 87.

Briscoe was governor for six years, starting in 1973, and lost a reelection bid in 1978 to fellow Democrat John Hill, who was defeated by Republican Bill Clements.

Briscoe, a South Texas rancher who called Uvalde home, was among the richest Texans and became a noted philanthropist in his later years. The The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin blossomed with a donation from the former officeholder.

He was a state legislator from 1949 to 1957 (an early advocate of farm-to-market roads that criss-cross the state) and left politics to run the family's massive ranching business. He ran for governor in 1972 in the wake of the Sharpstown scandal that turned over a record number of seats in the state Legislature, and won reelection in 1974 — the first governor elected to a four-year term in what was historically a two-year office. He signed the Texas Open Records Act into law, giving the public easier access to the inner workings of goverment.

Here's his official bio at the Center that bears his name. According to that write-up, his political mentors included Vice President John Nance Garner (of Uvalde), President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Texas and U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, and Texas Gov. Ross Sterling.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.