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: 297321

Reported Deaths: 6805
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19814231
Hinds18949395
Harrison16886282
Rankin12842265
Jackson12750234
Lee9720163
Madison9516204
Jones8035148
Forrest7289138
Lauderdale6872228
Lowndes6061140
Lamar593381
Lafayette5767114
Washington5232130
Bolivar4630124
Oktibbeha443095
Panola433698
Pearl River4212132
Warren4144115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405995
Monroe3996129
Union397174
Neshoba3848171
Lincoln3624104
Hancock352978
Leflore3400121
Sunflower320986
Tate303974
Pike302697
Scott296171
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292066
Itawamba290675
Coahoma283069
Tippah280065
Copiah279959
Simpson277581
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255641
Leake254172
Covington250280
Grenada248878
Adams235778
George232745
Newton232753
Winston222179
Jasper214145
Tishomingo213266
Attala206971
Chickasaw201954
Holmes182870
Clay179452
Stone173429
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170773
Calhoun158628
Smith153833
Yalobusha145736
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123235
Lawrence121421
Carroll119425
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99824
Claiborne99030
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91423
Quitman77514
Franklin76420
Choctaw70117
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499411

Reported Deaths: 10149
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719951403
Mobile36396741
Madison32674469
Tuscaloosa24391423
Montgomery22789523
Shelby22250219
Baldwin19915289
Lee15070161
Calhoun13961296
Morgan13785255
Etowah13413327
Marshall11458215
Houston10121264
Elmore9509190
Limestone9435139
St. Clair9050228
Cullman8993183
Lauderdale8628214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7643165
Walker6600260
Jackson6551104
Autauga634492
Blount6252128
Colbert6007121
Coffee5261104
Dale4680107
Russell407534
Franklin400779
Covington3996107
Chilton3911104
Escambia379473
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3428142
Pike292973
Marion288796
Lawrence285787
Winston258568
Bibb246058
Marengo244657
Geneva240270
Pickens225757
Barbour213851
Hale212569
Fayette202657
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165141
Washington157036
Macon147845
Crenshaw146755
Clay146254
Cleburne140141
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123225
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter100832
Coosa90324
Greene88732
Choctaw55723
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