TAPS – Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. ’35
Sen. Harry F. Byrd ’35 pauses with Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 in this 2005 photo following the award of the New Market Medal to the senator. -- VMI File Photo.
LEXINGTON, Va., July 31 2013 — Former U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., alumnus of the VMI Class of 1935 and longtime VMI supporter, died July 30 at the age of 98, according to the Winchester Star.
“Senator Byrd was a gentleman of the first order,” said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, superintendent. “His lifetime of service as an officer in the Navy, as a statesman serving Virginia and the nation during turbulent times, as a respected journalist, and as a strong proponent of the Institute mark him as a truly remarkable individual.”
Peay offered the Byrd family the condolences of the VMI community.
“Senator Byrd’s impact on VMI goes far beyond the time he spent here as a cadet,” Peay said. “His passing saddens us all.”
Senator Byrd entered VMI with the class of 1935. He did not graduate from the Institute, but he continued his studies at the University of Virginia. VMI, however, remained an important part of his life. His last visit to VMI was last October, more than 80 years after he matriculated, when he was on hand for the presentation of the Harry F. Byrd Jr. ’35 Public Service Award to former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.
The Byrd Award was established in 2001 to honor public officials who make significant civic contributions. The award selection committee includes members of the Byrd family and state and VMI officials. In addition to Gates, recipients include former Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh Jr., former Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court Harry Lee Carrico, former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former state Sen. Elmon T. Gray ’46, and former Sen. Sam Nunn.
In 2005, the Institute presented Senator Byrd with the New Market Medal in recognition for his lifetime of public service. The medal is award to individuals who demonstrate the traits associated with cadets who fought in the Battle of New Market: leadership, duty, honor, and devotion.
More information about Senator Byrd’s life is available at the Winchester Star.