Byrd served 17 years in the Senate, from late 1965 until January 1983. Byrd replaced his father, Harry Flood Byrd, after poor health forced him to retire from the Senate.

The younger Byrd won the 1966 special election for the remainder of his father’s term before breaking with the Democratic Party. He won reelection as an independent in 1970 and 1976.

In the Senate, Byrd pushed for fiscal restraint and supported Virginia’s stance against desegregation. 

Byrd is survived by his son, Tom Byrd, the president and publisher of The Winchester Star.