Bo Byers Passing Marks Another Milestone in Texas Journalism History

June 2, 2010

Family, friends and former colleagues paid a final tribute in Austin today to Bo Byers, a Texas journalistic icon for more than fifty years. Bo had passed his 90th birthday last fall, and speakers stressed how much he crammed into those years. He even went back to UT to earn a graduate degree  in his seventies, and was a choir leader until recently at Central Presbyterian Church, where he had been a loyal member since he was eight years old. Although he worked for a number of Texas newspapers over his distinguised career, Bo was best identified as the Capitol Bureau  Chief of the Houston Chronicle for many years. He was noted for his tough but fair questions that produced keen political coverage.  It was in that context that I met him in the early 1960s when I was handling communications for then-candidate for Texas Governor John B. Connally. It was he who first chronicled my behind-the-scenes role for the Governor. And over our 50-year friendship, one historic occassion still stands out.

It occured at the Hotel Texas  in Fort Worth  late on November 21, 1963, the night before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The President and First Lady had retired upstairs after the first day of their Texas visit,  So Governor Connally, their host for the visit, was holding court in the hotel coffee show. Bo, who was part of the pres Corps traveling with the President, joined us for some political banter, during wich he revealed that the Chronicle would be publishing a new poll the following Sunday showing the respective strengths of leading public figures. He went on to share that Governor Connally was shown to be more popular than the President, a not-surprsing  fnding in view of headwinds Kennedy was facing his third year in office, but one no less pleasing to Connally.  Less than 15 hours after that giddy interlude and its exciting  anticipation of tomorrow, we all were immersed in the unthinkable nightmare that awaited us just 35 miles to the east in downtown Dallas.

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