|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 8th district
January 3, 1967 - January 3, 1981
|Lera Millard Thomas|
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives|
Robert Christian Eckhardt
July 16, 1913
|Died||November 13, 2001 (aged 88)|
|Spouse(s)||Orissa Stevenson, Nadine Ellen Cannon, Celia Morris|
|Children||Orissa Eckhardt, Rosalind Eckhardt, Sarah Eckhardt|
|Alma mater||University of Texas|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1943-1944|
Eckhardt was born in Austin, Texas on July 16, 1913. He was the grand-nephew of Democratic Congressman Rudolph Kleberg, nephew of Republican Congressman Harry Wurzbach, and a cousin of Richard Mifflin Kleberg, Sr., heir to the famous King Ranch in South Texas. Eckhardt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1935 and received his law degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1939. He served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1944. Eckhardt was appointed Southwestern Director of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, 1944-1945.
He moved to Houston, Texas and was elected a member of the Texas House of Representatives, serving from 1958 to 1966, where he compiled a fairly liberal voting record. One of Eckhardt's most enduring accomplishments in the Texas House was writing the Texas Open Beaches Act, passed in 1959.
In 1966, he was elected as a Democrat in Congress representing Texas's 8th congressional district, which included most of northern Houston. Eckhardt was the sponsor of the War Powers Act and the Toxic Substances Act. He was reelected six times without serious difficulty. In 1980, however, he was narrowly defeated by Jack Fields, losing by only 4,900 votes. He was also a co-founder of the Texas Observer magazine.
Eckhardt died on November 13, 2001, in Austin, Texas. He was interred in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.