Texans pay final respects to former Gov. White at Capitol

Austinites had the chance to pay their final respects to former Gov. Mark White Thursday as he laid in state at the Texas State Capitol.

AUSTIN - Former Texas Governor Mark White (D) made his final entrance into the State Capitol Thursday afternoon. 

The 77-year old died Saturday after a battle with kidney cancer.

Department of Public Safety Troopers carried his casket, draped in a Texas flag, into the rotunda. His widow, Linda Gale White, children and grandchildren followed close behind and were accompanied by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio). 

Troopers rested White's casket beneath his Capitol portrait, which was draped in black. White laid in state for about three and a half hours. State senators and representatives paid their respects and offered words of comfort to his family. Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, was also in attendance.

"He may have retired from public office but he never retired from public service," Johnson told reporters. "And he is an example that we all ought to embrace about how we can come and reason together and work together. Mark was brilliant at that."

White served as governor from 1983 until 1987. The Democrat is remembered as the state's 'Education Governor' for the advancements he made to public education, even when it cost him politically. Most notably, White passed the 'no pass, no play' law that benched student athletes who didn't pass their classes. 

Before the arrival of the casket, the House of Representatives honored White with a memorial resolution. 

Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), who met him in 1973, gave remarks on behalf of her colleagues.

"He appointed more minorities and women to government positions than all of the governors before him combined," Thompson said. "Gov. White was a dedicated public servant who embodied Sam Houston's famous quote, 'do right and risk the consequences."

"He boldly proposed to pay for education reform by asking the legislature to raise taxes, knowing that he alone would be held responsible," she added. 

"He will always be remembered for changing Texas education for the better by increasing teacher's pay, limiting class size and placing academics over sports. He had courage and fortitude beyond measure," Thompson said. 

The Senate also issued a memorial resolution in White's honor. Austin Sen. Kirk Watson (D) told his colleagues he spoke with his fellow Baylor University alum the Friday before he passed. 

"He was always in a happy mood. Wanted to talk politics and wanted to talk Baylor," Watson said. 

Sen. Watson noted White's many accomplishments and said the thing he tries to carry with him is the way White made him feel when they first met. A young political enthusiast, Watson met White as he was campaigning for attorney general on the Baylor campus. 

"The thing that impressed me the most as a 20-year-old college student was he treated me like I was somebody," Watson said. 

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) is the only current Senator who served under White. Whitmire told his colleagues he was a freshman senator when White was elected and shared stories of how his influence helped inspire and guide him. 

The public also had the opportunity to pay their respects to White while he laid in state.  

A motorcade then carried his body to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin to be buried at a private ceremony. 

Thousands, including former President George W. Bush and former Gov. Rick Perry, attended White's funeral Wednesday in Houston.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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