Former Texas Rep. J.J. Pickle Dies at 91
Former Democratic Rep. J.J. Pickle, who represented central Texas in the House for more than 30 years, died Saturday at his home in Austin, Texas. Pickle, who was 91, died of lymphoma, according to his daughter.
“He had the ability to bring people together, and at this particular time in our political history, it’s a talent we most admire,” former Texas Gov. Ann Richards (D) told The Washington Post.
Pickle, commonly known as “Jake,” was elected to the House in 1963, holding the very seat once occupied by his mentor, the future Senate Majority Leader and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Pickle was one of just a handful of Southern lawmakers to vote in favor of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Though it was a politically risky decision, it did not lead to his political demise. Instead, it earned him an early morning phone call from President Johnson, who lobbied heavily for the bill’s passage. Johnson praised the young lawmaker for voting with his conscience.
Pickle considered his most important achievement as a Member of Congress to be his efforts to pass a Social Security reform bill in 1983. The legislation addressed Social Security’s financial shortcomings by raising the age for full benefits.
Pickle graduated from the University of Texas in 1938 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945.
He is survived by his daughter, his two stepsons and his wife of 44 years. The details of his funeral arrangements have not been finalized.