Ralph W. Yarborough, 92, the Lone Star State's legendary liberal Democrat whose intelligent and sometimes flamboyant east Texas oratory served him in the U.S. Senate from 1957 to 1971, died Jan. 27 at his home in Austin. He had a broken hip, lung congestion and a heart ailment.
Sen. Yarborough, who had been called the "patron saint of Texas liberals," was that rarest of Texas liberal birds -- one that actually won statewide election. During his years in the Senate, Texas changed from a one-party, Democratic state to one with an active Republican Party, but it remained largely conservative.
He rose to the chairmanship of the Labor and Public Welfare Committee. Along the way, he carved a Senate career as a champion of liberal causes and legislation. He helped pass measures supported by organized labor, civil rights groups and organizations favoring aid to education.
He worked for increased health care and help for small farmers and businessmen. He opposed the war in Vietnam. He sponsored a GI Bill that extended benefits to 5 million veterans who had served after World War II and helped write laws such as the first Bilingual Education Act and a measure to increase Social Security benefits.
The other Texas senator, until 1961, was Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was the Senate Democratic leader before becoming John F. Kennedy's vice president. Johnson's relations with Sen. Yarborough seemed lukewarm, and, by the early 1960s, the Yarborough liberals and conservative Democrats, led by Gov. John Connally, were at loggerheads.
The Democrats lost the special Senate election of 1961, caused by the resignation of Johnson. The victor was a Republican college professor, John Tower. The disarray caused by these warring party factions brought President Kennedy to Dallas in November 1963 to try to achieve party unity for the 1964 elections. Sen. Yarborough was riding in the motorcade in which President Kennedy was killed.
In 1964, Sen. Yarborough won another Senate term by defeating a future president, a young, conservative-sounding Republican activist and businessman, George Herbert Walker Bush. Johnson, leading the Democratic presidential ticket, easily carried the state and the nation.
In 1970, Sen. Yarborough was defeated in the Democratic primary by Lloyd Bentsen, a former congressman and future vice presidential candidate and Treasury secretary. Bentsen ran a well-financed campaign, portraying himself as something of a conservative. He attacked Sen. Yarborough's opposition to the Vietnam War and attempted to link this opposition to the 1968 demonstrations and violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Sen. Yarborough spent much of his poorly financed campaign working in Washington and lost to the challenger by a ratio of 53 percent to 47 percent. Bentsen beat the then-Rep. Bush in the 1970 general election.
Sen. Yarborough ran unsuccessfully in 1972 for the Democratic Senate nomination. Since then, he had engaged in a legal career in Austin. He practiced civil law with an emphasis on oil and tax matters.
Ralph Webster Yarborough was born the seventh child in a family of three boys and eight girls on a farm in Chandler, Tex. After graduating from high school in 1919, he spent a year as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point before dropping out. He did not think prospects for advancement looked promising in a peacetime Army.
After teaching school in Texas and studying and working briefly for the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin, he enrolled in the University of Texas Law School. He graduated cum laude in 1927 from the school, where he also was elected to the Order of the Coif. After that, he practiced law, taught land law at the University of Texas and then served from 1936 to 1941 as a Texas district judge.
He had served in the National Guard in the 1920s and took up active duty in World War II. He served in the 97th Infantry Division of Gen. George Smith Patton's Third Army in Europe during the fighting. He then served briefly as the military government officer for central Honshu province in Japan, where he governed an estimated one-seventh of the country. He was discharged in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel.
He then practiced law in Austin, became the liberal voice of Texas politics and made three straight unsuccessful attempts to win the gubernatorial nomination. He was defeated in both 1952 and 1954 for the Democratic nomination by Gov. Allan Shivers. In 1956, he narrowly lost a runoff election to Sen. Price Daniel.
In April 1957, he won the Senate seat Daniel gave up to become governor. He received 364,605 votes to 290,803 votes for Rep. Martin Dies (D), and 219,591 votes for Republican Thad Hutcheson. In 1958, he won reelection to a complete term.
In 1970, he told the Dallas Morning News, "I don't regret at all having gotten into politics. I am always encouraging young people toward public service, although I warn them about the sacrifices and the pressures and the disappointments. But I certainly have no regrets about my own career."
Survivors include his wife, Opal, and three grandchildren. JOHN E. FLYNN NASA Project Engineer
John E. Flynn, 75, a retired NASA project manager who worked on the Apollo XI lunar landing, died of cancer Jan. 24 at St. Mary's Hospital. He lived in Greenbelt.
Mr. Flynn was a designer of circuits for the explorer series spacecraft, including accumulators, logic circuits and shift registers. He retired from NASA in 1977 after 16 years with the space agency. In the late 1960s, he took part in the Jupiter flyby feasibility study.
He was born in Minnesota. After high school he worked as a radio telegrapher in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He joined the Navy in 1940, served during World War II and retired in 1960.
Survivors include his wife, Esther Marie, of Edgewater; three sons, Robert J., of Edgewater, Thomas M., of Orlando, and Patrick J., of Beltsville; a brother, James A., of Minnesota; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. RICHARD E. MORRIS Banker
Richard E. Morris, 43, an employee benefits officer who had worked for NationsBank in Bethesda for the last 10 years, died Jan. 25 at Georgetown University of complications after bone-marrow transplant surgery. He had leukemia.
Mr. Morris, a Gaithersburg resident, was a Washington native. He was a graduate of Perry High School in Rockville and the University of Maryland. He had worked for the Interstate Commerce Commission from the mid-1970s to early 1980s, and then for Signet Bank until the mid-1980s.
Survivors include his wife, Bridget, of Gaithersburg; and his mother, Pearl Morris of Rockville. SADIE W. BARNES Washington Resident
Sadie W. Barnes, 80, a Washington resident and member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, died of pneumonia Jan. 24 at Washington Hospital Center.
Mrs. Barnes, who was born in Rockingham, N.C., attended Virginia Union College and Marquette University in Wisconsin. She lived in Arizona before settling in the Columbia Heights community in 1957.
Her husband, Harold U. Barnes, died in 1957.
Survivors include a daughter, Denise W. Barnes of Washington; and three siblings, Cortrina St. Clair of Denver and Cornelia Wall and Edward Wall, both of Elizabeth, N.J. CAPTION: RALPH W. YARBOROUGH