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Linwood Holton, former governor of Virginia, has died, family says

 HOLTON
Posted at 6:54 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 23:23:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Linwood Holton Jr., Virginia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a crusader against racial discrimination, has died. He was 98.

His family says he died peacefully Thursday at his Kilmarnock, Virginia, home. Holton was Virginia's governor from 1970 to 1974.

A moderate, he declared an end to “Massive Resistance,” the state’s onetime official policy of opposing public school integration.

He eventually fell out of favor with the increasingly conservative GOP, which he criticized as obsessed with cutting taxes at the expense of crucial services.

A family statement on Holton's death was shared by the office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, Holton’s son-in-law, who praised him as a model of public service.

His family shared a statement which read in part:

“To the world, Governor Linwood Holton is known as a giant of civil rights and change. When others stood in the doorways of schools to block de-segregation, our Dad walked us (and bused us) to integrated schools to show the rest of the world the way of justice. When others balked at tearing down the barriers to employment and opportunities for all Americans, our Dad led the charge in hiring for the Governor’s office a staff that represented all Virginians. In launching a political party that included Main Street business, labor organizations, and African American organizations including the Crusade for Voters, Dad helped break the back of the political machine that had called the shots in Virginia. Dad was all of that and more in his public life."

Gov. Ralph Northam also shared a statement on Holton's passing which read in part:

"If you want to know what American strength looks like, look at the famous photographs of Governor Holton—smiling, as he walked his children to Richmond’s public schools during the tensest moments of desegregation. He faced down Virginia’s demons and enabled this Commonwealth to look ahead."

Northam has directed that Virginia state flags are to be flown at half-staff in Governor Holton's honor for the next 30 days.