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Speaker Sam Rayburn Dead at 79

Nov. 16, 1961 - House Speaker Sam Rayburn died of cancer in his sleep today. He was 79 years old. President Kennedy led the nation — Republicans and Democrats alik — in mourning Mr. Rayburn as a great American. Mr. Kennedy and former President Harry S. Truman will lead mourners at the funeral Saturday in Bonham, Tex. Mr. Rayburn, who served longer as Representative and Speaker than any other man in history, will lie in state tomorrow at the Sam Rayburn Library for 24 hours while officials gather for the funeral. He was Speaker for 17 years. Mr. Rayburn’s health began to fail last spring, as he lost weight and appetite. In June and July, he had two moments of unconsciousness in the Speaker’s chair. But he insisted on working for the Kennedy New Frontier program. The disease spread through his body and into the brain, causing failure of the respiratory system and a calm, painless end at 7:20 a.m., EST.


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