AUSTIN (AP) — Robert Heard, who reported on Texas state government, politics and sports for The Associated Press, including the 1966 University of Texas tower shootings and a groundbreaking series on race and integration of Longhorns football, has died. He was 84.
Heard died April 15 from complications after surgery to repair a broken hip, said widow Betsy Heard.
Heard was one of the people shot by Charles Whitman on Aug. 1, 1966, while covering rampage for the AP. Whitman killed 17 and wounded 32 more in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Although Heard often gave interviews on major anniversaries of the shootings, “He lived his whole life hoping to get that out of the first paragraph of his obituary,” Betsy Heard said Wednesday.
“He didn’t want to be known for that,” son Tom Heard said. “That’s the kind of guy he was. He didn’t want to be famous for something that wasn’t an accomplishment.”
Heard, who also earned a law degree, wrote several books on sports and politics and founded a newsletter about University of Texas athletics.
Heard had gone to the campus to cover the tower shootings after the massacre started. Heard was trying to follow a group of police officers through a clearing when he was hit.
“Just before I reached the curb, I was shot down. I’d forgotten my Marine training; I hadn’t zigzagged,” Heard told Texas Monthly in 2006.
Born in Big Spring, Texas, in 1930, the son of a Baptist preacher served in Korea from 1951-52. After his military service, he earned a law degree from Baylor University and practiced in Houston for two years. He then worked as a journalist in Waco and Long Beach, Calif., before joining the AP in Los Angeles in 1964.
After his AP career, Heard was press secretary for Democrat Joe Christie’s U.S. Senate campaign. He later was the Capitol correspondent for the San Antonio Express News and wrote for Texas Lawyer. He also founded Inside Texas, a newsletter on University of Texas sports.
Heard wrote several books, including “Dance With Who Brung Us: Quips & Quotes from Darrell Royal,” a collections of comments by the former Texas football coach, and “Miracle of the Killer Bees: 12 Senators Who Changed Texas Politics,” about a group of state senators who left the Capitol and went into hiding to stop a vote on a bill in 1979.
A memorial is planned for a June family reunion in Uvalde County, Texas.
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