Texas Politics - Speakers of the House
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43.    Byron M. Tunnell

Byron M. Tunnell (1925-2000) was born October 14, 1925, in Tyler, Texas. Mr. Tunnell was educated in Tyler public schools and graduated from Tyler High School and Tyler Junior College. He joined the Naval Air Corps when World War II broke out; he served as a tail gunner. In 1952, he received his law degree from Baylor University and returned to Tyler to become an assistant district attorney before entering private practice.

Mr. Tunnell was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1956 and in 1963 was elected Speaker of the House. In the two years he served as Speaker, the Legislature created the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the state's first tourism department, and transferred what would become Padre Island National Seashore to the Federal Government. In 1965, he was appointed to the Railroad Commission by Governor John Connally allowing Ben Barnes to be elected Speaker. Tunnell was twice elected to the Railroad Commission, before resigning in 1973 to become vice president and lobbyist for Houston-based Tenneco Inc., an oil and gas company.

In 1995, Governor George W. Bush appointed Tunnell to overhaul and reorganize the troubled Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. He died on March 7, 2000 and was buried at the Texas State Cemetery on March 11, 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: link: Texas State Cemetery (Information was taken from the Austin-American Statesman, Metro and State, March 8, 2000.)

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