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Robert Alton Gammage

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Robert Alton Gammage Obituary

Robert Alton Gammage, a political all-rounder who served in the three branches of government including as a Texas Supreme Court justice, has died. He was 74.

Gammage suffered a heart attack Monday, according to his wife, Lynda.

Colleagues knew Gammage as a reformer and a dogged politician who stuck behind causes he believed in regardless of their popularity. As a member of the "Dirty Thirty," a bipartisan group of Texas anti-corruption lawmakers organized in the 1970s, Gammage championed reforms in education finance, women's rights and human rights, among many others.

Over the course of his 25-year political career, Gammage was elected to the Texas House of Representative, Texas Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Austin's 3rd Court of Appeals and Texas Supreme Court. He also served as a consultant to the Department of Energy and as an assistant attorney general, and he maintained a private law practice.

"I know he was very proud of his naval work and he was proud of being in all three branches of the government. But he wasn't the kind of guy that sits and thinks of the past; he would think forward," said Tom Phillips, a former Texas Supreme Court justice who served with Gammage. "He was absolutely fearless; he called everything like he saw it," added Phillips.

A native of Houston, Gammage earned football scholarships that helped put him through college. He was a captain in the U.S. Navy prior to entering politics. He also worked in the administration and teaching faculty of many Texas colleges.

"He was a great guy, a distinguished jurist and a great legislator and a great Democrat. He always worked for the party," said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

He ran for governor in 2006 and garnered more than 145,000 votes in the Democratic primary.

"He was a consistent voice for reform and for doing the right thing," said former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a friend and fellow Texas legislator. "He was always willing to do the right thing even if it was unpopular, and he helped a whole lot of people."

Gammage is survived by his wife of more than 21 years, Lynda; his four children, Terry Lynne, Sara Noel, Robert Alton and Samuel Paul; and seven grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home in Llano.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Texas Capitol, Senate Chamber; burial will follow at the Texas State Cemetery.

Contact David Barer at ?445-3702

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 10, 2012
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