Bob Bullock: A Texas giant and Baylor legend
He was never president, or even governor, but the Baylor Law School grad was once known as “the most powerful man in Texas.” Along the way, he not only shaped his home state of Texas, but helped set the stage for Baylor’s athletic success today.
In nearly four decades of Lone Star politics, Bob Bullock, JD ’58, never lost an election. He served as a Texas representative (elected as a Democrat in his hometown of Hillsboro while still a Baylor Law student), assistant attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller and lieutenant governor. And in a state that grants extraordinary powers to the lieutenant governor, Bullock was ready to take full advantage.
But his life was far more colorful than mere titles could suggest. When he died in 1999, he was described in The New York Times as an “earthy, string-pulling, hard-living political giant;” to those outside of Baylor, he might have seemed an unlikely ally, but Bullock’s love for the university never waned.
Though Bullock earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech, he donated his public papers to Baylor shortly before his death. That collection is today the Bob Bullock Archive in the W.R. Poage Legislative Library, providing future generations with a treasure trove of first-hand documents examining Texas history at the end of the 20th century.
Of course, Bullock is also remembered for coming through for Baylor during the formation of the Big 12 in the mid 1990s. The stories of his influence have grown over the years, and tales of his methods have taken on a certain urban legend quality. But it is true that when it appeared that Baylor was going to be on the outside of the new league looking in, Bob Bullock — perhaps moreso than the more frequently recognized Ann Richards, BA ’54, then-governor of Texas and another Baylor alum — stepped in and made sure Baylor had a seat at the table. Their substantial political clout made it possible for the Bears to experience the success on the national stage that we enjoy today.
Thirteen years ago today — fittingly, on San Jacinto Day — the Texas giant was honored when the Bullock Texas State History Museum opened in Austin, named in his honor. He didn’t live to see it, but he would undoubtedly have been proud of the project he had long championed.
Sic ’em, Bob Bullock!