Julie Davis, 55, of the tiny town of Kermit left the Capitol at 2:30 a.m. with her son, Doug. They made the late 90-minute drive from Mingo County to Charleston to avoid the crowds. Mrs. Davis has diabetes and can't stand for long periods.
"He was one of what I would call a dying breed. He was a true gentleman,'' the retired school teacher said.
Gov. Joe Manchin mixed it up with the crowd, posing for pictures and reflecting on what Byrd had meant for his state. He lingered on well past midnight before retiring to the governor's mansion nearby.
"West Virginia's just like a family,'' Manchin said. "There's less than 2 million of us and we take care of each other in times that are difficult. We cry together, laugh together. This is a time where we're a little bit of both -- a little bit of mourning and celebrating at the same time, that we're so fortunate to have him in West Virginia.''
In the governor's reception room, across from a bank of 11 guest books filled with thousands of signatures, the scent of roses arranged in huge bouquets filled a room crowded with mementoes. Guests could take a postcard-sized photo of Byrd with his beloved Shih Tzu "Trouble'' on his lap. Below the photo were the words: "When I am gone and opened, they will find West Virginia on my heart.''
The reverse side contained the 23rd Psalm, which opens with: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.''
Elsewhere in the Capitol, a young Byrd was shown in photos with President Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and in a coal mine with a hard hat sitting at a jaunty angle on his head. Few lingered over the displays, and instead quietly moved up the long corridor to view Byrd's casket.
A group that drove five hours from Shepherdstown lingered outside the west wing after paying their respects early Friday.
Jenny Allen, 39, a fundraiser, had met Byrd many times but still felt the tug of history in his presence.
"When you were around him, it felt like you were meeting a giant in history,'' she said. Still, despite his stature, he was a gentle presence and he was "lovely to my son,'' Allen added.
"I think a lot of people feel like they've lost someone in their family tonight.''