Lloyd Criss Jr., former chair of the Galveston County Democratic Party and former state representative of District 11 in the Texas House of Representatives, died Sunday of a rare blood disorder at HCA Houston Healthcare Mainland Hospital in Texas City. He was 79.
Criss, who served in the Texas House from 1978 to 1990, fell Saturday at his home in La Marque after suffering from a severe case of anemia, his daughter Susan Criss, of Galveston, said.
He was rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered the blood disorder, Susan Criss, a former state district judge, said.
“The passing of my father was extremely unexpected,” Susan Criss said. “He woke up Sunday in the hospital and asked for the doctors’ and nurses’ names because he wanted to send them thank-you cards. The staff was more than helpful, and we appreciate them so much.”
Before his stint in the state’s legislature, Criss was a pipefitter and a member of the union. He also co-authored a book of self-published memoirs titled “Rough & Tumble: Texas Political Combat,” which featured stories of his time in Austin as he fought to pass worker protection laws, as well as helping legalize bingo in Texas.
Criss was planning to attend the state’s Democratic convention, Susan Criss said.
“My dad sponsored and passed more than 100 pieces of legislation and was a member of a lot of committees,” Susan Criss said. “He was so passionate about helping people who couldn’t fight for themselves.
“But his crowning moment was when he helped to get a bill passed that got benefits for migrant farmers,” she said. “He fought so hard for that one because his mother was one in California. He always said that was his best achievement in the legislature.”
M.T. “Bujo” Waddell, a retired professor at Galveston College, who worked as an assistant for Criss during four legislative sessions, said Criss always had the interest of Galveston County at heart.
“Although he was a strong liberal, he was very successful with getting bills out of the House as he would use his ability to work with people to get solutions,” Waddell said.
RENOWNED FOR HONESTY
Waddell, who ran against Criss for chair of the Galveston County Democratic Party in 1980, said Criss was renowned for his honesty.
“He was very well respected, and people knew he would never pull a fast one on them,” Waddell said. “That amounts to a great deal in the legislature. He was the sort of person you could play poker with and wouldn’t have to worry about him cheating.
“Members and lobbyists respected him a lot,” he said. “He was a great friend and will be missed.”
La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking said the city of La Marque, for which Criss once served as a councilman, and Galveston County are better off because of Criss’ tireless work.
“One of the things I always admired about him was his fierce loyalty to his family, friends and his beloved Democratic Party,” Hocking said. “His writings about his faith in God were thoughtful and inspiring, and he’s in a better place today because of that faith.”
Marcey Casey, of Galveston, and member of the Galveston County Democratic Party, said Criss was a decent man with a wicked sense of humor who fought for average people daily, she said.
“Lloyd was truly an individual,” Casey said. “He loved his family and he loved this country. He fought for average people, who are the backbone of this country. We could’ve sure used someone like him up in Austin right now.”
Lloyd Criss Jr. leaves his wife of 60 years, Diane; three children, Susan, Lloyd III and Ted, both of Texas City; and three grandchildren.
Funeral services were still pending as of Tuesday evening.