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Strom Thurmond dies at age 100; had ties to Southern Baptist churches

EDGEFIELD, S.C. (BP)–Former U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the longest-serving member of the Senate, died June 26 at age 100.

Thurmond grew up as a member of First Baptist Church of Edgefield, S.C., and became a member of First Baptist Church of Columbia during his time as governor of South Carolina from 1947-51. In 1951, he moved his membership to First Baptist Church of Aiken, S.C., where he was a member until his death.

“Strom Thurmond was an outstanding citizen and representative of South Carolina,” Carlisle Driggers, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press. “We remember him best in South Carolina not only for his politics but for his service to his constituents. He had a servant’s heart. Thousands of people have been calling in to radio talk shows, reminiscing about how he helped them out.

“As I understand it, whenever he was still going strong and was at home, he would always show up at church. He was certainly very faithful as a Baptist in South Carolina. He never hid that fact. He didn’t make a big deal about it, but he was never hesitant to say that he was a Baptist in South Carolina,” Driggers said.

Upon hearing of his death, members of the Senate observed a moment of silence in his memory during their June 26 session.

“He carried out a life clearly unmatched in public service,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, after announcing Thurmond’s death on the Senate floor. Frist also called Thurmond “a close friend, a confidante, a colleague.”

Thurmond retired from the Senate in 2002 at the end of his eighth term. In all, he served 47 years and five months in the Senate.

Before his retirement, Thurmond had been hospitalized frequently for minor ailments but always returned to the Senate floor within a matter of days, CNN.com reported. Sources said Thurmond simply died of old age while living in a wing of a hospital in his hometown of Edgefield.

Funeral arrangements tentatively call for Thurmond’s body to lie in state at the South Carolina State House June 29-30. Family and close friends will be allowed in on Sunday; the general public on Monday, according to CNN. The funeral will be July 1 at First Baptist Church in Columbia, and burial will be in Edgefield.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: STROM THURMOND.

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  • Erin Curry