Serving first in the House of Representatives before his election to the Senate in 1958, he is the only person ever elected to nine full Senate terms.
Sen. Byrd was a remarkable man—a man who grew up in poverty in rural West Virginia, who ran successfully for the state legislature in the 1940s, and then got elected to Congress in 1952. He served several terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958, and has served in Congress without interruption for 58 years—longer than any federal lawmaker ever and even longer than the corporate life span of The Humane Society of the United States.
If ever an individual was inseparably identified with an institution, it was Robert C. Byrd and the U.S. Senate.
Indeed, he wrote a four-volume history of the Senate and was a master of its arcane rules and procedures, which made him a dangerous legislator to cross. He held almost every position in that body worth having, including majority leader, minority leader and president pro tem, which made him third in line for the presidency.
West Virginia first elected Byrd to the Senate in 1958 and did for the last time in 2006; even though he was infirm and beginning to ail physically, the state easily re-elected him to a record ninth term. He was the chamber's longest-serving member when he died Monday at 92.