Congressman J. J. "Jake" Pickle, who served 16 terms in the House of Representatives, represented the people of the 10th District for 31 years. As the third-ranking Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, he is deeply involved in the economic, tax, trade and health legislation that has dominated Congress in the late 1980s and 1990s.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin during the Great Depression, Rep. Pickle served as area director for the National Youth Administration in Texas, later moving to Washington to work for then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson. He served his country for three and a half years in the Navy during World War II, seeing action in nine battles.
After the war, the congressman returned to Austin and joined a group of veterans to establish the Capital City's second radio station, KVET. He was named executive director of the Texas Democratic Executive Committee in 1957 and was appointed to the Texas Employment Commission in 1961. He made a successful run for Congress in a 1963 special election.
While in office, Congressman Pickle has served as chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee, earning the nickname "Guardian of Social Security," and as the chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Committee. He fought for Social Security reform, strengthening of the nation's private pension system and improvements in the Medicare program and rural health care.
Congressman Pickle also worked hard for the people or District 10. One of his crowning achievements was bringing Sematech, regarded as one of the most successful public/private initiatives ever, to Austin. He has seemed funds for airport improvements and for the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge to protect Austin's endangered species and helped establish solar energy, flood control and soil conservation projects. He is particularly proud of garnering assistance for low-income housing projects and advancing the interests of the Gary Job Corps, one of the first and largest youth programs in the U.S.
A lifetime of community service has won Congressman Pickle one more awards than can be mentioned here but some highlights include 1987 Austinite of the Year (Austin Chamber of Commerce), 1987 Most Worthy Citizen (Texas Association of Realtors), Congressman of the Year for 1989 (National Rural Health Association), 1992 Congressional Leadership Award (Semiconductor Industry Association) and 1992 Research and Technology Community Award (Council on Research and Technology). In 1984 he was presented the President's Excellence Award from SWT (now Texas State University).
—Adapted from the original event program distributed at Jake Pickle's LBJ Distinguished Lecture