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Michael Dukakis, Other Dignitaries Attend Funeral Of Lloyd Bentsen Sr.

January 20, 1989

McALLEN, Texas (AP) _ Lloyd M. Bentsen Sr. was eulogized Thursday for a ″life he invested in other people″ in a funeral attended by more than 1,000 people, including his U.S. senator son and Michael Dukakis.

Bentsen, 95, died at the wheel of his automobile Tuesday morning in a two- car crash at a rural intersection in Hidalgo County, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

The Texas House passed a resolution Thursday that honored Bentsen, an early developer of the state’s southern tip along the Mexican border, saying ″Texas lost one of its most esteemed citizens.″

Dr. James Eaves, delivering the sermon at First Baptist Church, hailed the ″complete life″ of Bentsen, who rose early each day and remained active in his agricultural and real estate businesses until his death.

Bentsen would be remembered for his hard work, devotion to his family, and his ″life he invested in other people,″ said Eaves, the former interim pastor of Bentsen’s church, and a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

″I remember about the time I asked Senator (Lloyd) Bentsen (Jr.) to run with me, his dad had just done a round trip to San Antonio to negotiate a land deal and had driven himself up and driven himself back all in one day, and this man was 95 years of age,″ said Dukakis, Massachusett’s governor and the 1988 Democratic Party presidential candidate, after the funeral.

″I remember the last rally we had here in McAllen, and he was up on that platform very proud of his son, very proud of the campaign and just a very strong, very good person,″ Dukakis said of the elder Bentsen, who also played a prominent role in the Democratic National Convention last summer.

Bentsen grew up one of six children of Danish immigrant parents, thrashing wheat and busting wild horses in South Dakota. He came to Texas in 1917, met his wife, Dolly, and started building his south Texas empire, which included farming, ranching, agricultural, banking, oil and real estate.

He eventually held nearly 50,000 acres of farms and ranches and played a major role in the development of Texas’ citrus industry. But later he also recognized the need to preserve the border area’s vanishing wildlife habitat, and donated land that became the 587-acre Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

He and Dolly, who died in 1977, had four children: Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr.; Kenneth, a Houston architect; Don, a McAllen businessman; and Betty, wife of a wer Rio Grande Valley businessman.

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