Byron M. Tunnell
|This article does not cite any references (sources). (February 2007)|
|Byron Milton Tunnell|
|Texas Railroad Commissioner|
1965 – January 1973
(1) John B. Connally, Jr. (1965-1969)
|Preceded by||Ernest O. Thompson|
|Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives|
|Preceded by||Jimmy Turman|
|Succeeded by||Ben F. Barnes|
|Texas State Representative from District 15 (Smith County)|
|Preceded by||Bill D. Wood|
|Succeeded by||John A. Mobley, Jr.|
October 14, 1925|
Tyler, Smith County
|Died||March 7, 2000
Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas
|Spouse(s)||Bette Lemons Tunnell (married 1945-1988, her death)|
|Alma mater||Baylor Law School|
|Service/branch||United States Navy Air Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Byron Milton Tunnell (October 14, 1925 – March 7, 2000) was a state representative from 1957 to 1965, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 1963 to 1965, and a member of the Texas Railroad Commission from 1965 to 1973.
Tunnell was born in Tyler, the county seat of Smith County and the largest city in east Texas, and educated in public schools. He graduated from Tyler High School and Tyler Junior College. He joined the United States Navy Air Corps during World War II, having served as a tail gunner. On January 13, 1945, he married the former Bette Lemons (1927–1988).
Tunnell was first elected to the Texas House in 1956. In the two years that he served as Speaker, which coincided with the first two years of the administration of Governor John B. Connally, Jr., the legislature created the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the state's first tourism department, and transferred what would become Padre Island National Seashore to the national government. On November 22, 1963, Tunnell was present at the Fort Worth, breakfast at the Hotel Texas held for U.S. President John F. Kennedy shortly before his assassination later in the day. Others at the gathering included Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr.
In 1965, Governor Connally appointed Tunnell to the Texas Railroad Commission upon the retirement of 32-year veteran Ernest O. Thompson. Ben Barnes was then elected Speaker. Tunnell was twice elected to the Railroad Commission—1966 and 1972—before he resigned in 1973 to become a vice president and lobbyist for the Houston-based Tenneco, a petroleum and natural gas company. One of his lobbyist colleagues was former state Representative Phil Cates, formerly of Wheeler County.