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DALLAS The body of former activist, Dallas City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Al Lipscomb will lie in state at Fair Park beginning Thursday at noon.

Supporters knew Lipscomb as charismatic and opinionated.Opponents called him abrasive and polarizing.

But Bettye Berry, Lipscomb's cousin, considered him a big brother.

He taught me how to strategize in playing dominoes. Quickly you had to tell him math numbers, and I suck at math, she said with a laugh.

Albert, as Berry and his family called him, was married for 54 years.

He loved to ballroom dance, treasured time with his 14 grandkids, and enjoyed all kinds of music even country.

It was not publicized that his health was failing, but it had been for a while now, Berry revealed. I guess for about 10 months to a year.

At 86, Lipscomb suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure.

But Berry said she worried his life was in as much danger during his days as an activist who was attacking the Dallas establishment.

We thought about all of those things, including someone might choose to not have Albert around anymore, Berry explained. And that was scary.

Dallas attorney Tom Melsheimer defended Lipscomb when he was indicted and convicted for bribery, a case that was eventually overturned and charges later dropped.

He didn't stand up and say it was a racial persecution or anything like that, Melsheimer said. He took responsibility for letting people down. I think that's one of the reasons he got home confinement, and frankly, that speaks well for him.

Lipscomb died Saturday morning before dawn at his daughter's home in Oak Cliff, leaving Dallas better off than he found it.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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