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.
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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.
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