C.B. "Buddie" Newman, who was House speaker for 12 of the 40 years he served in the Mississippi Legislature, died Sunday morning. He was 81.
Newman had suffered from a blood disease. A member of his family said he had been extremely ill in recent days.
A World War II veteran, Newman began his political career as a state senator in 1948. In 1952 he switched to the House, where he stayed until his retirement in 1988.
Newman was a Delta farmer who became one of Mississippi's most
powerful and controversial political figures. He served his as House speaker from 1976 to 1988.
During his 12 years as speaker, the Legislature enacted education reforms, funded a massive highway construction program that continues to this day, and enacted ethics and open meetings laws.
Newman maintained tight control over the House, but fell into disfavor with lawmakers when he gaveled the 1982 regular session to a close, even as legislators were shouting at him to allow a vote on creating kindergarten in the public schools. That controversy dogged Newman for the remainder of his career.