Byron M. Tunnell
Politician, Deceased Person
1925 – 2000
Who was Byron M. Tunnell?
Tunnell was born in Tyler, the seat of Smith County and the largest city in east Texas, and educated in public schools. He graduated from Tyler High School and Tyler Junior College. He joined the United States Navy Air Corps during World War II, having served as a tail gunner. On January 13, 1945, he married the former Bette Lemons.
Tunnell was first elected to the Texas House in 1956. In the two years that he served as Speaker, which coincided with the first two years of the administration of Governor John B. Connally, Jr., the legislature created the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the state's first tourism department, and transferred what would become Padre Island National Seashore to the national government. On November 22, 1963, Tunnell was present at the Fort Worth, breakfast at the Hotel Texas held for U.S. President John F. Kennedy shortly before his assassination later in the day. Others at the gathering included Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr.
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