Robert Carlyle Byrd

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Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.

Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States
Death: June 28, 2010 (92)
Falls Church, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Cornelius Calvin Sale and Ada Mae Sale
Husband of Erma Ora Byrd
Father of <private> Fatemi (Byrd) and <private> Moore (Byrd)
Brother of Clarice Sale Scorggs; William Jerome Sale; Reuben Rathmal Sale and Clyde James Sale

Occupation: Politician, Attorney, U.S. Senator
Managed by: R. Owen Wyant
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Robert Carlyle Byrd

He was a United States Senator from West Virginia. A member of the Democratic Party, Byrd served as a Senator from 1959 to 2010 and was the longest-serving senator and the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress.

Initially elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1952, Byrd served there for six years before being elected to the Senate in 1958. He rose to become one of the most powerful members of the Senate, serving as secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus from 1967 to 1971 and, after defeating his longtime colleague, Edward Kennedy, Senate Majority Whip from 1971 to 1977. Byrd led the Democratic caucus as Senate Majority Leader from 1977 to 1981 and 1987 to 1989, and as Senate Minority Leader from 1981 to 1987. From 1989 to 2010 he served as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate when the Democratic Party had a majority, and as President pro tempore emeritus during periods of Republican majority beginning in 2001. As President pro tempore, he was third in the line of presidential succession, behind the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He also served as the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations from 1989 to 1995, 2001 to 2003, and 2007 to 2009, giving him extraordinary influence over federal spending.

Byrd's seniority and leadership of the Appropriations Committee enabled him to steer a great deal of federal money toward projects in West Virginia, thus building an immense reputation and base of support in West Virginia. Critics derided his efforts as pork spending designed simply to appeal to his own constituents. Over his career, he held a wide variety of both liberal and conservative political views, starting his career as a conservative Southern Democrat. He filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported the Vietnam War, but later backed civil rights measures and criticized the Iraq War. Rating his voting record in 1964, the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action found that his views and the organization’s were aligned only 16 percent of the time, less than even conservative Republicans of the era; by 2005, he had an ADA rating of 95 percent. Conversely, the American Conservative Union rated Byrd a conservative in its first ratings in 1972.

Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 in 1942. His local chapter unanimously elected him the top officer of its unit. However, he later stated that joining the KKK was "the greatest mistake I ever made."

Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on November 20, 1917. When he was one year old, his mother, Ada Mae (née Kirby), died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic. In accordance with his mother's wishes, his father, Cornelius Calvin Sale, dispersed the family children among relatives. Titus and Vlurma Byrd, the infant's uncle and aunt, were given custody, adopted him, renamed him Robert Carlyle Byrd, and raised him in the coal-mining region of southern West Virginia.

Byrd was valedictorian of Mark Twain High School and, in 1937, he married his high-school sweetheart, Erma Ora James (June 12, 1917 – March 25, 2006). Both were 19 years old. Byrd eventually attended Beckley College, Concord College, Morris Harvey College, and Marshall College, all in West Virginia.

Byrd's wife, Erma Ora James, was born June 12, 1917 in Floyd County, Virginia, to Fred James, a coal miner, and Mary James She had one sister, Beulah Minton. At an early age, she relocated to Raleigh County, West Virginia with her family. There she met Robert Byrd while attending Mark Twain School.

On May 29, 1937, she married Byrd when both were 19 years old. Only their parents attended the small ceremony at the home of Reverend U.G. Nichols.

Beginning in 1958, Erma Byrd was a member of the Senate Wives Club and was involved in Senate Wives' Red Cross projects. In 1990, she was selected as Daughter of the Year by the West Virginia Society of Washington, D.C. She was later awarded a degree from Alderson–Broaddus College in 1991, and in 1994, Marshall University initiated the Erma Byrd Scholars Program. This recognition was followed by the Loyalty Permanent Endowment Fund of the West Virginia University Alumni Association, which established the Erma Ora Byrd Scholarship.

In October 1997, the Erma Byrd Garden at the Graceland Mansion at Davis and Elkins College was dedicated. Erma Byrd received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheeling Jesuit University soon after, which was followed by the dedication of the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies on the campus.

In May 1999, she was named Mother of the Year by the Thunder of the Tygart Foundation at the birthplace of Anna Jarvis, the surmised founder of Mother's Day. Erma Byrd received the Graduate of Distinction Award from the Education Alliance in Charleston, West Virginia, in the same month. In January 2004, the Erma Byrd Gallery at the University of Charleston opened.

On March 25, 2006, Erma Byrd died at age 88 after battling a lengthy illness. Robert Byrd dedicated several buildings in honor of his wife, including the Erma Ora Byrd Hall nursing building at Shepherd University (June 2007), and the West Virginia University Erma Byrd Biomedical Research Center (September 2008).

Byrd had two children, Mona Byrd Fatemi and Marjorie Byrd Moore; two sons-in-law, Mohammad Fatemi and Jon Moore; five living grandchildren, Erik Byrd Fatemi, Darius Fatemi, Fredrik Fatemi, Mona Moore and Mary Anne Moore, and one deceased, Michael Moore; and six great-grandchildren, Caroline Byrd Fatemi, Kathryn James Fatemi, Anna Cristina Fatemi, Michael Yoo Fatemi, Emma James Clarkson and Hannah Byrd Clarkson.



The Library of Congress > THOMAS Home > Congressional Record > Search Results

Congressional Record

101st Congress (1989-1990)

ROBERT C. BYRD'S GENEALOGY (Senate - August 04, 1989)

[Page: S10216]

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, several years ago, considerable effort was made to trace my ancestral roots. The work was, by no means, complete, as of course, it could never be.

I ask unanimous consent that the results of that effort be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the genealogy was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Robert C. Byrd's Genealogy

The origin of the name Sale derives from the name de la Salle, French, from the time of the Norman conquest. The English meaning of the word salle is room' or hall'.

The first appearance of the name Sale in England seems to be that of Robert de la Sale, in 1273. Sale also appears as Salle, Sales, Sayle.

William Sale, born in 1638, was brought by one John Stevens in 1657, from England. Sale worked as a planter for seven years, after which he was granted 130 acres of land. Seven years was a common indenture which he probably served in exchange for passage from England. The land lay on the East side' of the Chickahominy River. In 1679, William Sale bought 400 acres in old Rappahannock County, later a part of Essex County. He died before 1704' in Essex County. His wife's name is unknown, but she died after 1704' in Essex County.

William Sale had a son, Cornelius, who died in 1746. Cornelius married Hanna (last name unknown). William also had a son, Anthony, and a daughter, Elizabeth.

Cornelius named six sons in his will, which was made on April 3, 1745, and probated on March 17, 1746. The sons named in the will are William, Anthony, John, Thomas, James, and Cornelius.

One of these six sons was the father of William Sale, Sr., born about 1725, probably in Essex County. He died in 1788 in Wilkes County. He married Ann (last name unknown). They had thirteen children including, Robert, Sr., Leonard, Cornelius, James, William, Jr., John, and Thomas.

Robert Sale, Sr., was born in Halifax County, North Carolina in 1772. He died in 1866. He had ten children including sons, Robert Sale, Jr., and William. (Robert Sale, Sr.'s, wife is unknown.)

William Sale was born in 1815 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He died in May of 1889. He married Caroline Dickerson on April 23, 1844. Caroline was born in 1823 or 1824 in Surry County, North Carolina. Caroline's father and mother were probably Wiley and Nancy (Cole) Dickerson. Wiley's grandfather was probably Griffith Dickerson of Bute County, North Carolina. William Sale and Caroline were the parents of James Sale.

James Sale was born in May of 1844 or 1846 (?) in Wilkes County, North Carolina. James married Martha Elizabeth Henderson on January 14, 1867. Martha Elizabeth Henderson's parents were Eli Henderson and Caroline Somers (or Summers or Sommers). (Caroline's parents were John and Frances Somers--or Summers or Sommers); Eli's father and mother may have been William and Judith Henderson; the names Henderson and Somers (or Summers or Sommers) are prominent in Caswell County.) Martha Elizabeth Henderson was born on May 2, 1848, in Iredell County, North Carolina. She died on June 10, 1928, in Wilkes County, North Carolina. James and Martha Elizabeth Sale had twelve children, ten of whom were alive in 1900 (census). One of James and Martha Elizabeth's children was Cornelius Calvin Sale.

Cornelius Calvin Sale was born on May 1, 1875, in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. At the age of twenty eight, he married Ada Kirby, who was nineteen years old at the time, on April 28, 1906. Ada Kirby was born in March of 1888 in Lenoir, Caldwell County, North Carolina. Ada Kirby's father was James Kirby, and her mother's name was Ella Rebecca Lawrence, whose father was Leander M. Lawrence and mother was Clementine Murchison. Leander Lawrence's parents were Alexander E. Lawrence and Ruea. Alexander's parents were Barnabus and Eleanor Lawrence. Ada Kirby's father, James, was born in April of 1864. He and his family were in Kings Creek Township, Caldwell County, North Carolina, in 1900. James Kirby had brothers Thomas and Franklin. Their mother was Margaret Tilley Kirby, whose husband was Avery Kirby. Avery Kirby's parents were Riley (or Rilie) Kirby and Mary. Margaret Tilley's parents were Hosea Tilley, born in 1822, and Nancy, born in 1820. Hosea Tilley's parents were Lewis, born in 1780, and Mary Tilley, born in 1783. Lewis Tilley's parents were Edmond (or Edmund) Sr., and Sarah (Margaret?) Tilley. Edmond (or Edmund), Sr.'s last will and testament was made on December 19, 1793, and probated in May of 1800. Edmond (or Edmund) was a Revolutionary War soldier.

Cornelius Calvin Sale and his wife, Ada Kirby, had five children--Clyde, born in 1907, William, Reuben, Jettie, and Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr., (Robert Carlyle Byrd), who was born on November 20, 1917.

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Robert Carlyle Byrd's Timeline

November 20, 1917
North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States
January 3, 1959
- June 28, 2010
Age 41
January 3, 1977
- January 3, 1981
Age 59
January 3, 1981
- January 3, 1987
Age 63
January 3, 1989
- January 3, 1985
Age 71
January 3, 2001
- January 20, 2001
Age 83
June 6, 2001
- January 3, 2003
Age 83
January 3, 2007
- June 28, 2010
Age 89
June 28, 2010
Age 92
Falls Church, Virginia, United States