WORD, JAMES POWELL (1929 ~ 2009). The following is an obituary for former Texas Senator J.P. Word. The obituary was published in the October 14, 2009 edition of the Austin American Statesman.
"Former State Senator James Powell 'J. P.' Word passed away peacefully at his home in Austin on the morning of Monday, October 12, 2009, following a lengthy illness. J.P. was born in Bosque County, Texas, on June 24, 1929 to Charles Kirby 'Jake' and Rosemary Dorman Word. He was raised in Meridian, Texas. As a young man, he worked in the oilfields of West Texas as a roughneck and acquired his nickname 'Big Word.' He served with the United States Army in Korea in the 302nd Military Intelligence Corps from 1950 to 1953. Upon his return from Korea, he married the former Bobbye Warren, also of Meridian, on April 11, 1953.
J.P. attended Baylor University, graduated from Baylor Law School in 1958 and entered the practice of law in his home town. In the same year, he won election as County Judge of Bosque County and began his long career in public service. He served as County Judge until he was elected to the Texas Senate in 1963. His Senate District 12 was one of the largest in the state, stretching from south of Fort Worth down through the Hill Country to San Antonio and Kerrville.
A close friend and ally of Governor John B. Connally, Senator Word was a much respected leader in the Texas Senate, retiring in 1973. In 1965, Senator Word and his close friend, then Senator and now Congressman Ralph Hall, led the Senate's efforts to draw new state legislative and Congressional districts for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court's famous 'one man-one vote' decision in 1964. He was again appointed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Legislative, Congressional, and Judicial Districts in 1971 by Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes. During his Senate tenure, he also served as Chairman of the General Investigating Committee and as member of the powerful Finance Committee.
While J.P. accomplished much during his Senate career, such as leading the State's efforts to bring about San Antonio's 1968 HemisFair international exposition, his proudest accomplishment was legislation creating the Tuition Equalization Grant Program. The TEG Program helps qualified students to attend private Texas colleges and universities of their choosing at state university tuition rates. He was elected by his Senate colleagues as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate in 1969, honoring him as Governor-for-a-Day on September 20th of that year.
Following his retirement from the Senate, Senator Word moved his family to Austin and began a new career as a lawyer and lobbyist with the Austin office of the law firm of Stubbeman, McRae, Sealy, Laughlin and Browder. Over many years, he served as the chief legislative advocate for a number of professional groups, including the Consulting Engineers Council and the Texas Chiropractic Association. He was a founder and President of the Texas Civil Justice League. No one who had the pleasure of working with Senator Word could ever forget his genuine personal warmth, good humor and unquestioned integrity.
An enthusiastic golfer, J.P. was a member of Balcones, Austin, and Onion Creek Country Clubs. He was also a member of the Austin Club and the Headliners Club, serving as President of the Headliners Club in 1982.
He is survived by his wife Bobbye of Austin; son Charles B. 'Rusty' Word, wife Karen and grand-daughter Sydney Tyler; son James P. 'Jim' Word, Jr., and Lisa Sanford; and daughter Amy Michalowski, her husband Todd, and grand-daughters McKinley and Brennan Michalowski, all of Austin. He is also survived by his brother, Charles Kirby 'Chock' Word, Jr. and his wife Joann of Meridian; his sisters, Dorma Jane 'Sissy' Nickels of Meridian, and Charlene Nichols and her husband J.C., of Austin; and his sisters-in-law, Inez Rice of Austin and Delores Peterson of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home at 3125 North Lamar Blvd., Austin. Funeral services for Senator Word will be held at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 15, 2009, in the Weed-Corley-Fish Chapel at the same address. Interment and a reception will follow at the Texas State Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts and remembrances be made in memory of Senator J.P. Word to a charity of your choice."
Further information is available through the Texas State Cemetery research department.