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Byrd's staff must sort 'a lifetime of work'

By Ed O'Keefe

Robert C. Byrd was known for many things -- his mastery of Senate rules, his oratorical skills, his ability to quote long passages of poetry from memory. At one time, he was apparently also considered quite the looker. "If you ever decide you've had enough of the Senate (which would be the country's loss) you can always model men's wear for Brooks Brothers," one female admirer wrote Byrd in April 1978. "What a super model you'd make."

Sarah Palin
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) in his Capitol Hill office on June 16, 2005. (Melina Mara/Post)

Byrd's correspondent was none other than Abigail "Dear Abby" Van Buren, who wrote to Byrd, then 61, to compliment his "perfectly stunning" photograph in Time magazine.

The Dear Abby mash note is one of thousands of letters, photographs and other memorabilia that fill drawers and closets and filing cabinets in Byrd's cluttered office in the Hart Senate Office Building and his hideaway in the Capitol. In the coming days, his staff will embark on the long task of sorting through it all to archive what is one of the largest collections in congressional history.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | July 8, 2010; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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