Lamar Alexander, 77, of San Antonio, died Thursday

Wife of Lamar Alexander dies at age 77; former U.S. senator for Texas dies at age 88

Lamar Alexander died Thursday in San Antonio. He was 77.

The cause was complications from heart surgery.

“We have lost a great American and a great Texan,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wrote in a tweet earlier Thursday. “The world mourns today for the legacy of Lamar Alexander, but we also rejoice that the Alexander family will now be joining us in this place of honor.”

Alexander was a former U.S. senator from Texas and the longest-serving member of that body from 1995 to 2015, and served for more than 40 years in the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was once considered a possible 2020 Senate contender against Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas — an office that the Texas Republican now holds.

He won the Texas Democratic Party’s endorsement in 1980, when Gov. Ann Richards was reeling from the sudden death of her husband of 65 years, former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, an event that left the state with a divided governor and a deeply divided state party.

Alexander retired from the Senate on June 30, 2015, and was sworn in as the first-ever ambassador at large for international religious freedom in the nation’s capital.

Alexander was born Sept. 17, 1937, in El Paso and lived across several counties from Austin, the capital, until his family moved to San Antonio when he was 10.

He graduated from Fort Worth’s Bowie High School in 1953 and went to the University of Texas at El Paso, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and was president of his fraternity. He was married for nearly 50 years to the former Jean G. Alexander, with whom he had three children: Christopher, Mary Elizabeth and Philip.

“I consider it a great honor, not only to be the grandfather of four grandsons, but to be able to serve as your great-grandfather, your grandfather, your father,” Alexander told The Washington Post in 2012.

Lamar Alexander

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