Governor Rick Perry has ordered flags to half staff in remembrance of former Governor Ann Richards, who touched many lives across the state, the country, and here in the Brazos Valley.
Reaction to the passing of Ann Richards has been bipartisan and fond. Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards remarked, "she gave Texas a lot, but perhaps her greatest gift was to help us all laugh at ourselves."
Current Texas Governor Rick Perry called Richards, "a figure larger than life who had a gift for captivating the public with her great wit. She was an endearing and enduring figure in Texas politics."
And a fellow Republican, former governor, and the current president said of Richards, "her charm, wit, and candor brought a refreshing vitality to public life."
"She came in and immediately lit up the room, and lit up the whole festivities," said local attorney Neeley Lewis. "You could immediately tell this was somebody who was going to do something in politics."
Lewis, the former Democratic Party chairman for Brazos CountyNeeley Lewis, was remembering back to when Ann Richards was merely a Travis County Commissioner. He would later help her campaign for governor.
"She would be blunt, but blunt in a sort of a charming way," he recalled.
Maybe the most memorable blunt comment came during the 1988 Democratic National Convention, when Richards remarked of the Republican president, "he doesn't know any better. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
And speaking of former President Bush, Lewis remembers when his library was set to arrive at Texas A&M, and roads needed improvements. It was Richards who pushed for the fast-tracking of that roadwork.
"She said, 'Neeley, it's the ultimate irony. Here I am, trying to fast-track a deal to get the George Bush Presidential Library,'" recalled Lewis. "But she did that. She knew that the library was going to be very important to Texas A&M and to this community."
But for Lewis, the side of the governor he'll remember most is the friendly face.
"Everytime I would see her, she'd ask, 'how's your family? How are the kids? How's your world?' She always would stop and talk about those type of tings," Lewis said. "People remember that."
The former Governor's body will lie in state at the Rotunda Saturday and Sunday. Funeral service have been set for Monday in Austin.
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