Byron M. Tunnell

Politician, Deceased Person

1925 – 2000

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Who was Byron M. Tunnell?

Byron Milton Tunnell was a state representative from 1957 to 1965, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 1963 to 1965, and a member of the Texas Railroad Commission from 1965 to 1973.

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.

In 1952, Tunnell received his law degree from Baptist-affiliated Baylor Law School in Waco and returned to Tyler to become an assistant district attorney before he entered private practice.

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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Oct 14, 1925
Also known as
  • Byron Tunnell
  • United States of America
  • Baylor University
  • Tyler Junior College
  • Baylor Law School
Lived in
  • Tyler
  • Austin
Mar 7, 2000
Texas State Cemetery

on July 23, 2013


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