Former US Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. buried in Va.

Former Va. Sen. Harry Byrd, Jr. (Photo: Official portrait via Wikimedia)

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - Former U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. has been laid to rest in Virginia.

Byrd's funeral was held Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester. About 200 people attended his burial at Mount Hebron Cemetery, which is near the family-run Winchester Star newspaper.

Former Missouri Republican Sen. John Danforth led the 40-minute church service. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Gov. Bob McDonnell and six of his predecessors attended the service and burial. Those included three who held the Byrd Senate seat: Democrats Charles S. Robb and Timothy M. Kaine, and Republican George F. Allen.

Byrd died Tuesday at age 98. He had retired from the Senate in 1983.

Byrd won a special election in 1966 to replace his father, Harry F. Byrd Sr., who vacated his Senate seat the year before.

The younger Byrd left the Democratic Party to become an independent and won re-election in 1970 and 1976. Byrd said his departure wasn't about ideology but about a party edict that all Democratic candidates sign an oath to support the party's ever more liberal national tickets.

Byrd, like his father, preached fiscal discipline and claimed Congress could balance the budget if it would just hold annual spending increases under 5 percent.

In 1982, his final year in the Senate, Byrd said he was leaving public service with his convictions and integrity intact, but regretting that "Congress refuses to obey its own law which mandates a balanced budget."

Byrd also was an opponent of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down racially segregated public schools.

Byrd's son, Tom, is The Winchester Star's president and publisher.