B.A. (Mrs. Lloyd) Bentsen
Our beloved B.A. Bentsen passed away at dawn, Tuesday the 5th of May 2020, and was reunited with her husband, Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr.
Beryl Ann Longino was born the only child of Ann Newton Longino and Burrell Andrew Longino in Lufkin, Texas on the 4th of February 1922. Orphaned at twelve, she was raised by her Aunt Margaret Longino. She graduated from Lufkin High School at 16 and attended the University of Texas at Austin where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority. The first career for the hazel-eyed beauty from East Texas was at Harry Conover Modeling Agency in New York City. In 1943, while living at the Barbizon Hotel for Women, Lloyd Bentsen came courting. After six dates they were married in Columbus, Mississippi. She recalled, "Once she found Lloyd, she was home."
B.A. lived with Lloyd's family in McAllen until he returned from the service. For the next 35 years B.A. joined Lloyd on a new career path of their seemingly non-stop campaigns and public service including her husband's run for county judge, four elections to the US House of Representatives, four elections to the United States Senate and Presidential and Vice-presidential candidacies. She campaigned energetically for Lloyd's causes, for they were her causes, too. Her political acumen was underscored by her service as the National Democratic Committee Woman from Texas at the fractious 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
B.A. was intelligent, hard-working, cheerful with a heavy dose of charm and grace. Even her husband jokingly referred to her initials, B.A. as an abbreviation for Lloyd's BEST ASSET. And, indeed she was.
B.A. raised three children, Lloyd M. III, Lan Chase and Tina Ann, while shuttling back and forth 28 times in 30 years from Texas to Washington, D.C. Her focus was consistent: faith, family and community. She taught Sunday School for 12 years and served as a founding member of both River Oaks Baptist Church School and the First Presbyterian Church School.
Returning to Houston in 1994 she quickly reengaged in her community, serving on the boards of the Houston Symphony, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the YWCA. Her business acumen was reflected in her service on the boards of Criterion Capital of Houston, Transamerica Funds of San Francisco, and their successor, John Hancock Mutual Funds of Boston
Losing Lloyd to a stroke in 2006 and shrugging off a severe stroke of her own in 2009, B.A. Bentsen opened The Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Stroke Research Center at UT's Institute for Molecular Medicine in 2009.
Her grit and determination were perhaps best reflected in what was almost a tragedy. After miraculously walking away unscathed from a nighttime private plane crash, B.A. proceeded to earn her pilot's license and solo'd.
In Africa she was probably the only woman to shoot a lion between the eyes, left handed with her ever present purse hanging off her elbow. Reflecting her sense of humor, if she thought Lloyd was paying too much attention to a female constituent, she would catch his eye from across the room and tap her finger on her forehead between her eyes. With a laugh, he got it.
While their great marriage lasted over sixty-three years, their fiftieth anniversary was especially memorable in that it was hosted by President and Mrs. Bill Clinton at the Blair House upon Lloyd's retirement as Secretary of the Treasury in 1993.
B.A. traveled the world with her husband, family and friends. Her grandchildren delighted in hearing her stories as she was always planning a next adventure. When talking about a trip, she would perk up and say, "Let's do that!" She was a regular fan at her grandchildren's events, and on Tuesdays you could find her tutoring a young girl in math at the Nehemiah Center.
She was blessed in so many ways. Just 10 days ago, B.A. was, in her 99th year, reading the Wall Street Journal and New York Times without glasses, and ready to discuss politics, admire a beautiful sunset over a glass of wine, and Facetime with her grandchildren.
B.A. is survived by her son, Lloyd III and wife Gayle, son Lan and wife Adele and daughter Tina, grandchildren Lloyd IV, Ryan, Skyler and husband Jimmy Stewart, Kendall DuMond Bentsen and husband Jesse DuMond, Kate Bentsen, Lori Johnson and husband Dr. Evan Johnson, Richard Bentsen, and great grandchildren Lloyd Bentsen V, Sydney, James and Sam Stewart, Ben and Andrew Johnson and sister-in-law Betty Bentsen Winn. She was preceded in death by her husband Lloyd Jr., granddaughter Courtney Bentsen, brother and sister-in laws Donald and Nell Bentsen, Kenneth and Mary Bentsen, and Daniel Winn.
Her last words were "I want to go home". And on Tuesday, she left for home, faithful to the end.
The family expresses its appreciation to Hilda Afanan, Milton Lopez, and Nora Diaz for their unflagging devotion, and to Dr. Carmel Dyer and her staff at UTHealth's Consortium on Aging.
Jim Birchfield, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Houston, will preside over a private family graveside service with a memorial service to be held later in the year.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed toward the Nehemiah Center, 5015 Fannin, Houston, TX 77004; the UTHealth Consortium on Aging, 7000 Fannin, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77030; or to the charity of one's choice
Please visit Mrs. Bentsen's tribute page at GeoHLewis.com
where memories and words of comfort and condolence may be shared electronically with her family. Additionally, for those desiring, one may opt to receive updated service information by clicking on "Receive Notifications" on her tribute page.