For a reporter who had covered Tom Bliley since he arrived in Congress in 1981, the news that he had died Friday at age 91 evoked one clear image: that of a genuine gentleman from Virginia, right down to his signature bow tie, silver hair, and ever-present pipe.
Thomas Jerome Bliley, Jr. looked the part of someone who was mayor of Richmond from 1970-77 and then represented the Richmond area in the U.S. House from 1980-2000. He seemed to be Miles Brock, the archetypal conservative Democrat-turned-Republican in The Shad Treatment, Garrett Epps’ epic novel about Virginia politics, come to life.
The scion of a family that ran a Richmond funeral parlor for generations, Bliley graduated from the Roman Catholic Benedictine High School at age 16 and earned a degree from Georgetown University.
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