By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A rancher who served as mayor of a Texas town for 63 years and was thought to be the longest-serving mayor in the United States has died in office at age 92, city officials said on Wednesday.
Hilmar Moore died on Tuesday night at a local hospital of complications from a fall last month, said Garry Gillen, a city commissioner in Richmond, located southwest of Houston.
"He had a real sense for the history of Texas," Gillen said. "He embodied that Texas cowboy tradition. I think that's what kept him in office, was his sense of loyalty to the land and service to the people."
Moore served in office for more than one-third of the time that Texas has been a state. When he was appointed to fill an unexpired term as mayor of Richmond in 1949, one of his first meetings was with the state's new U.S. senator: Lyndon Johnson.
"He was so likeable. He was very forceful. Even though he was 92, he was still the rooster, he was still an active man," said Thomas Crayton, an accountant who heads the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.
Moore had not faced an opponent for re-election in the town of 12,000 since the mid-1990s, Crayton said.
Richmond City Manager Terri Vela said officials have been documenting Moore's tenure for the past several years, and all records they can find indicate he was the longest-serving mayor in the country.
"Sometimes, smaller communities don't document the mayor's tenure," she said.
A life-sized bronze statue of Moore sits in the lobby of city hall, Vela said.
"One thing's for certain," Gillen said. "Richmond will be a very different city tomorrow."
(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Xavier Briand)