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In Memoriam: H.G. Dulaney, 1918–2009

H. G. Dulaney, circa 1950s.

H.G. Dulaney, circa 1950s.

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History pays tribute to H.G. Dulaney, director emeritus of the Sam Rayburn Museum. Dulaney died on July 4, 2009, at the age of 91.

Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn selected H.G. Dulaney to serve as the first director of the Sam Rayburn Museum in 1957. H.G. made it his life's mission to carry on the responsibility the Speaker placed upon him: to protect and promote the legacy of Speaker Sam Rayburn and to make people aware of the lasting contributions of one of history's greatest statesmen. He ultimately was the only person to have ever held the position of director. Upon his retirement in 2002, he was named director emeritus and was subsequently re-hired by the Briscoe Center as a special consultant to the Rayburn Museum. As a result of his years of service, H.G. was a highly recognizable figure associated with the Rayburn Library and the Bonham area, second only to Speaker Rayburn himself.

"H.G. Dulaney was a tireless, loyal, ethical, and conscientious worker for Sam Rayburn's legacy for more than fifty years," said Dr. Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "With his many years of selfless work at the Sam Rayburn Museum, he embodied the true meaning of public service. There is no real way to pay him enough homage to equal his contributions to the Rayburn Library."

"H.G. Dulaney was a man of great sensitivity who demonstrated compassion for his family, community, and the thousands of people who came to know him as an inseparable part of the Rayburn Museum," said Dr. Patrick Cox, associate director for congressional and political history at the Briscoe Center. "When I came in as administrator for the Library, it was immediately clear that H.G. was an essential, irreplaceable resource. Because of H.G.'s six decades of service, the Sam Rayburn Museum, a national historic landmark, will live on as a lasting symbol of his dedication."

Born in Ector to H.G. and Lucy Dulaney, H.G. Dulaney attended Ector schools. He married Rita Redman in 1941 and they had two children, Loretta and Mike. He served in the Air Force during World War II, eighteen months of which was spent in the India-Burma theater. Following the war, H.G. returned to Texas and attended Draughons Business College in Dallas. He joined Speaker Sam Rayburn's Washington, D.C., staff in 1951. H.G. was one of only 38 employees who worked for Rayburn during his 48 years in Congress. While in Washington, H.G. attended night classes at Southeastern University of Accounting. He was unable to complete his degree, however, because the Speaker asked H.G. to accompany him back to Bonham, Texas, in 1956, when Rayburn's sister, Lucinda, became gravely ill.

In 1957, Speaker Rayburn handpicked H.G. to be the first director of the Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham. Rayburn was never concerned with lack of experience and knowledge of running a library. He simply asked H.G. to do his best. H.G. worked tirelessly with Karl Trever, special assistant to the archivist of the United States and the man responsible for establishing presidential libraries. Together, they organized the collection at the Rayburn Library.

Original Sam Rayburn Foundation Board of Trustees, 1957.
L-R: Mrs. Bernice Newman, Secretary, H.G. Dulaney,
R. M. McCleary, Buster Cole, Mrs. John Palmore,
Ray Manning, Mr. Rayburn, H. A. Cunningham.

When Rayburn died unexpectedly in 1961, the Rayburn Foundation was ill prepared for the difficulties that arose. H.G. was given the task of overseeing the library's current programs while also developing new programs and events that would create public interest and support. Typical of his approach to any difficulty, H.G. faced the obstacles head on. The majority of the programs and publications associated with the Rayburn Library were H.G.'s creations. He developed Speak, Mister Speaker, the Library's quarterly newsletter, and served as editor and contributing author for twenty years. He also was a contributor to The Majority Report, the quarterly newsletter of the Friends of Sam Rayburn. He established the Sam Rayburn Foundation scholarship essay contest in 1993, and, in partnership with Dr. James Conrad of Texas A&M–Commerce, developed an oral history program on Speaker Rayburn for the university's Special Archives. In addition, H.G. was instrumental in organizing the Sam Rayburn Symposium, held annually at Texas A&M–Commerce for 25 years.

Given H.G.'s knowledge of Speaker Rayburn and the Rayburn collection, he earned the reputation of being the foremost authority on all things related to the Speaker. During his 45 years as director, H.G. provided invaluable research assistance to countless scholars. H.G. edited two works about Speaker Rayburn: Speak, Mr. Speaker and Impressions of Mr. Sam: A Cartoon Profile. He also developed the guide to the Sam Rayburn Papers for the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Sam Rayburn Museum, 50th Anniversary, 2007.
Patrick Cox, Curtis Smith, Don Carleton, Martha Rayburn Dye,
Dee J. Kelly, H.G. Dulaney, and Roy Floyd.

In addition to his scholarly contributions,  H.G. was responsible for the everyday operation of the Rayburn Museum. His duties ranged from the supervision of employees and interns to obtaining new research materials, not to mention his critical efforts to preserve of the library's buildings and collections (including binding books and framing pictures). His work at the Sam Rayburn Library led to his appointment as a trustee of the Sam Rayburn Foundation Board and as an advisory board member of the Friends of Sam Rayburn.

He worked with the Fannin County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission, as well as with local civic organizations to promote events, exhibits, and programs throughout the Bonham area. H.G. had the honor of membership in the Blue Lodge of the Masons and was involved in the Ector Masonic Lodge for more than 60 years. He was a member of the Dodd City Lion's Club and the Ector Community Friendship Club, as well as a faithful longtime member of Ector United Methodist Church. He served a number of years on the Ector Carson Cemetery Board and the Public Housing Authority Board.

H. G. Dulaney, 2009.

H.G. Dulaney, 2009.

H.G. received numerous awards and accolades over his lifetime. In 1980, he received the Good Government Award from the Zeta Gamma chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science National Honor Society. He was named Bonham Citizen of the Year in 1997. In September 2002, in honor of his official retirement from the Sam Rayburn Museum, the Fannin County Commissioner's Court and the city of Bonham signed a proclamation declaring H.G. Dulaney Day. In addition, the main exhibit gallery of the Rayburn Museum was renamed in his honor, commemorated with the permanent installation of his portrait.

In 2005, H.G. was doubly honored by the Friends of Sam Rayburn—he was given the inaugural Public Service Award and the award was named in his honor. The same year, the Sam Rayburn Foundation established a scholarship in his name.