Dr. Michael DeBakey will lie in repose at City Hall today, the first time the 67-year-old government building has been used to pay such a tribute to one of Houston’s residents.
Officials in Mayor Bill White’s office said the public viewing was an appropriate honor, given DeBakey’s contributions to the city and modern medicine. Not even Jesse Jones, considered the most important builder of the city, was so remembered.
“It’s certainly unusual,” said Bob Stein, a Rice University professor of political science. “Such honors are usually reserved for public servants. But that’s not to say it’s inappropriate, considering Dr. DeBakey performed 60,000 operations. That’s not 60,000 votes, but it shows he touched a lot of lives.”
Susan Christian, deputy director of the mayor’s office of special events, said the city will now establish criteria for future public viewings. She said the honor will be reserved for people of DeBakey’s stature.
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