Omar Truman Burleson

U.S. Congress, 1926

Omar Truman Burleson, a man some have epitomized as one of the best of America’s lawmakers, was born in Anson, Texas on March 19, 1906. Burleson attended Simmons College in 1926, where he played trumpet and baritone for the Cowboy Band.

He left Simmons and headed to Cumberland University School of Law, where he graduated in 1929. The same year he married Ruth DeWeese, his wife of fifty-four years, and began practicing law in Texas. He worked as Jones County Attorney and Judge, as an FBI special agent, and as secretary to Congressman Sam Russell. In 1942, he joined the navy during World War II, serving in intelligence and later aboard a minesweeper. He rose to the rank of lieutenant commander before his discharge in 1946. That same year, Omar Burleson was elected to the Eightieth Congress as Representative of the 17th District.

Omar Burleson represented Jones County for thirty-two years in Congress, from January 3, 1942, until his resignation December 31, 1978, worked under seven presidents, from Truman to Carter. In 1968, Burleson was elected unanimously to serve on the Ways and Means committee and in 1975, he was elected to serve on the newly formed Budget committee. When he left Congress in 1979, he was the seventh ranking member in the House and tenth ranking member of Congress. Burleson is remembered as one of the last members of a generation of powerful Texas politicians who brought military bases, airports, and electricity to the state’s rural corners.

Burleson was honored many times throughout his career. In 1960, he and his wife were named Jones County’s outstanding citizens of the year. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from HSU in 1967. In 1974, a bronze sculpture of Burleson was dedicated on the lawn of the Jones County Courthouse. In 1978, the post office and federal building in Abilene were named for him. He died on May 14, 1991.

Inducted on April 5, 2002.