Capito also spoke of Byrd's "love of music, love of education, love for his dogs and his faith in God. ... With Sen. Byrd's passing, West Virginia has truly lost a favorite son, and the U.S. Senate has lost an icon."
Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., said Byrd "began as a product of a segregation ... But through an intense pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, he became a powerful representative for the cause of equal opportunity for everyone."
Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., said, "This country knew Sen. Byrd as one of the lions of the Senate, whether it was his opposition to the war in Iraq or his commitment to improve safety and working conditions in the mines of West Virginia.
"I cannot imagine Robert C. Byrd representing any state other than West Virginia. And it is difficult to imagine West Virginia without Sen. Byrd," Mollohan said. "I will miss my friend."
Rahall spoke of Byrd's early political career, when Rahall's father raised was treasurer for campaigns whose motto was: "Byrd by name. Byrd by nature. Let's send Byrd to the Legislature."
Rahall said Byrd was always cautious about the use of superlatives.
"He felt they were tossed around too casually. And though I do not doubt that he is now grimacing a bit at me for saying this, it is just not possible to speak about Senator Byrd without using superlatives -- the longest serving, hardest working, most revered, best loved," Rahall said.
"We shall all miss him. Now he is with his beloved wife Erma, who was a twinkle in his eye for the 69 years they were married, before her passing five years ago. Thank you, Senator Byrd."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.