UT alumnus, former Democratic chairman Robert Strauss dies at 95

Madlin Mekelburg

Robert Strauss, UT alumnus and former Democratic Party leader, died in his Washington, D.C., home on Wednesday. He was 95. 

Strauss, who received his undergraduate and law degree from UT, worked as a special agent for the FBI following his graduation in 1941. Later, he established his own law firm in Dallas, which eventually became known as Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.    

Strauss has deep ties to UT, as he and his law firm endowed the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law to UT. Strauss also served as the Lloyd Bensten chair at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. 

In 1989, the UT System Board of Regents established the “Robert S. Strauss Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law” to benefit the School of Law. Funds for the scholarship were provided by Strauss’ law firm in his honor. 

Strauss’ political career started when he was still an undergraduate student at UT, as he had the opportunity to work on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s first congressional campaign. Later, Strauss managed both of President Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaigns and advised presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush while they were in office. While working under Bush, Strauss was sent to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union because he was a self-defined “expert on people.”

Strauss is survived by three children. His wife, Hellen Strauss died in 2006. As of press time, no memorial service has been scheduled. 

Strauss — who was renowned for his quick wit, biting humor and self-reflective nature — reportedly told anyone who would listen:  “It ain’t braggin’ if you’ve done it.”

Parts of this story was compiled using reports from the Associated Press.