Reuben E. Senterfitt

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The Honorable Reuben E. Senterfitt, 60th Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, died on November 20, 2013 at the age of 96, in Austin, Texas of complications from pneumonia. Born in San Saba County on June 18, 1917, Mr. Senterfitt came from a ranching family and graduated as valedictorian at San Saba High School in 1935. He later earned a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was editor of the Texas Law Review. Mr. Senterfitt began his career in public service at age 23, when he was elected to the Texas Legislature. He served seven consecutive terms from 1941 to 1955, culminating in two consecutive terms as Speaker of the House. He became only the second person to serve two consecutive terms in that office. During this time, he also served his country as a member of the United States Navy, rising in rank to lieutenant while serving in the South Pacific during World War II in 1945. Mr. Senterfitt’s participation in the legislative process brought programs that continue to benefit Texans today, co-authoring and sponsoring legislation that led to the establishment of M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, a leading cancer research institution in the nation. In 1949, he sponsored legislation creating the State’s Veteran’s Land Board program. He advocated for passage of the Gilmer-Aikin bills, which reformed the Texas school system and for the adoption of the pay-as-you-go constitutional provision. Mr. Senterfitt facilitated the creation of the Texas Legislative Council, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike. During his speakership, Mr. Senterfitt also instituted the use of a unified budget. Prior to 1951, the Legislature had enacted separate biennial appropriations bills for different departments, such as the judiciary, state hospitals, and universities and colleges, as well as special-purpose appropriations bills. Mr. Senterfitt sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1956, losing in the primary to eventual governor Price Daniel. Retiring from the Legislature, Mr. Senterfitt subsequently served as City Attorney for San Saba and County Attorney for San Saba County while practicing law at the firm he founded, currently known as Senterfitt, Childress & Shook. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Patricia Gray Senterfitt; one brother, John Senterfitt of Georgetown; his sons, Barry Senterfitt and wife, Sarah Payne Senterfitt of Austin and Jim Farley and wife, Tracey Troost Farley of Lubbock and his daughters; Diane Senterfitt and husband, Geoff Weisbart of Austin, Mimi Farley Bode and husband, Richard Bode of San Saba, and Shirley Taube of Louisiana; fifteen grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, nieces and nephews and very dear friends. He is preceded in death by his parents, Reuben E. Senterfitt Sr. and Allie Beck Senterfitt; five sisters and one brother; one daughter, Linda Kreger and one son, Ronald Senterfitt. Funeral services were held on Friday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of San Saba, internment followed at the San Saba Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the San Saba County Emergency Medical Services. Family and friends are invited to leave online condolences at Funeral arrangements are directed under the Blaylock Funeral Home of San Saba, Texas.
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