Dye, longtime Mississippi lieutenant governor, dies at 84

Brad Dye, who was lieutenant governor longer than anyone else in Mississippi history, died Sunday at age 84 from respiratory failure.

Posted: Jul 1, 2018 11:29 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Brad Dye, who was lieutenant governor longer than anyone else in Mississippi history, died Sunday at age 84 from respiratory failure.

His son, Dr. Ford Dye, says his father died at a hospice in Ridgeland.

"Brad Dye is one of the most complete public servants I ever served with," said former House Speaker Billy McCoy. "He gave his very best."

Dye came from a politically powerful family: his father served as a state House member and an uncle and grandfather of his served as sheriff. He got his start in politics paging for fellow Charleston native U.S. Rep. Jamie Whitten. Later, a young Dye drove U.S. Sen. James Eastland, a political kingpin, around the state during Eastland's 1954 election campaign. He also worked for future governor Paul B. Johnson Jr. in the 1950s before winning election to the state House in 1959.

A protege of Eastland, Dye was near the center of the action as white Mississippi Democrats struggled against integration. He worked for Eastland in Washington in the early 1960s as an attorney for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee when the state Legislature wasn't in session. Johnson, by then lieutenant governor, invited Dye to come to Oxford when rioting started amid resistance to James Meredith becoming the first black person to enter the University of Mississippi in 1962. Dye declined, but admitted he supported anti-integration legislation that later looked foolish.

"That's how far-fetched some of these things were," Dye told an oral history interviewer "But you'd get caught up. If you didn't vote for the damn thing you'd be accused of being an integrationist."

Dye would later make his peace with integration, hiring African Americans onto his staff as lieutenant governor.

Dye was elected to the state Senate in 1963 but resigned to take a post on the state Workers' Compensation Commission. From there, he managed John Bell Williams' campaign for governor in 1967, and Williams appointed him director of the state Agriculture and Industries Board, the forerunner of today's Mississippi Development Authority. He won election as state treasurer in 1971, but lost his only campaign in 1975 when he ran for lieutenant governor the first time against Evelyn Gandy, the first woman to hold the post.

Dye, though, came back to win the office in 1979 and would hold it from 1980 to 1992. Although the Republican Party began its rise to dominance during that time, Dye remained a conservative Democrat all his life, a throwback to when everyone was a "Mississippi Democrat" and factions were often fluid from issue to issue.

"He served in politics back in the day when you might have had a completely different political viewpoint with somebody, but they still might be friends," Ford Dye said.

As lieutenant governor, he shepherded Gov. William Winter's education reform package, intervening at a key moment with powerful Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ellis Bodron, who was inclined to kill it.

"Ellis, what you do with your politics is fine, but in running your mouth, you've hurt my politics," is how Dye later recounted the conversation to authors Jere Nash and Andy Taggart.

Dye also supported the landmark 1987 four-lane highway expansion and was a supporter of the state's universities and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. McCoy said Dye helped elevate the powers of lieutenant governor to where they are today, saying "he really knew how to work with the members." But McCoy said Dye also chose not to obstruct the three governors he served under.

"He understood his role as the lieutenant governor and that they were the chief executive," McCoy said.

Dye lost his final bid for re-election to Eddie Briggs in 1991, as voters picked Briggs and Kirk Fordice as the first GOP governor and lieutenant governor since Reconstruction. Lieutenant governors were later limited to two terms.

"Deborah and I offer our sincere condolences to Donna Dye and the entire family of long-time Lt. Governor Brad Dye," Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement. "Brad was a great man who dedicated much of his life to serving his state and its people. He will be missed by all who knew him."

Dye is survived by his wife, the former Donna Bess Bailey of Coffeeville, and three sons — Ford, Hamp and Rick. Funeral services for Dye are planned Thursday at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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