Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton dies at 98

Former VA Governor Linwood Holton, who died 10.28.21 at age 98
Former VA Governor Linwood Holton, who died 10.28.21 at age 98(Foster Studio-VA Legislative Photo Gallery)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:44 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 29, 2021 at 6:08 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton died at the age of 98 on Thursday morning.

A statement on behalf of Holton’s children, sent by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, confirmed his death, saying that Holton died peacefully at his home in Kilmarnock. He had just turned 98 last month.

Holton served as Virginia’s 61st governor from 1970 to 1974. He is also Kaine’s father-in-law.

Kaine released the following statement.

“I mourn the loss of my father-in-law Linwood Holton. He was more than a father-in-law — he was my friend and my public service role model. His courageous efforts to end racial discrimination in Virginia, born out of a deep religious conviction about the equality of all God’s children, made him a moral pillar for so many. Lin and Jinks have been the key inspiration for my wife Anne’s public service career.

“Lin was also a magnificent grandfather. I will always be thankful for his role in my life.”

The statement from Holton’s children said the following:

“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.

“But to us, he was simply a great Dad – a hero who helped us with our math homework, told us funny stories, and showed us the way to live committed to what is right. A Dad who always helped us see that every day is Opportunity Time – the chance to go make right in the world, for our families, our friends, and our communities. A loving, proud granddad to his 10 grandchildren, and a great friend to so many.

“With our mom Jinks, his lifelong partner in all things and wife of 68+ years, Dad touched the lives of so many people.

“We will miss Dad terribly but have been deeply blessed by his life.”

Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement, saying in part:

“Linwood Holton changed what it means to serve as Governor of Virginia. He knew defeat at the ballot box before victory—and when he won, he made every moment count.

“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 the Virginia state flag be flown at half-staff for the next 30 days.

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