Former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier collapses at memorial service for Enron founder Lay
July 12, 2006 (HOUSTON) -- Former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier collapsed as he arrived at a memorial service for Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay on Wednesday and was in stable condition at a hospital later in the day.
Doctors at St. Luke's hospital were examining the 80-year-old former mayor, and family spokeswoman Barbara Mendel said Lanier was awake and alert.
"He's in good spirits. He has not lost his sense of humor," Mendel said. She said she had no further details on what caused Lanier to collapse.
About 20 minutes before the memorial service began, Lanier suddenly fell as he and his wife, Elyse, were approaching their seats near the pulpit of First United Methodist Church.
Secret Service agents on hand for the arrival of former President Bush and his wife, Barbara, rushed to Lanier's side, as did several men who said they were doctors. A pastor asked the audience to pray while paramedics moved Lanier to be taken to an ambulance.
Lanier was mayor from 1992-1998 and was known affectionately as "Mayor Bob."
He and Lay were two of Houston's biggest powerbrokers in the 1990s. Lanier pushed hard for legislation that allowed the construction of three new sports stadiums, including the Houston Astros ballpark, which was named Enron Field until the company's collapse in 2001.
Lanier testified as a character witness when Lay was being tried on fraud and conspiracy charges; the executive was convicted May 25 and was awaiting sentencing when he died of heart disease last week in Aspen, Colo.
"I thought Ken was visionary for Enron, visionary for the city," Lanier said on the stand. Lanier said he never recalled seeing Lay do anything selfish, and he also said he believed Lay would have made a good mayor. "He was straight as a string with me," Lanier told jurors.
His first election in 1991 was hard-fought, but Lanier coasted to win his next two terms. Term limits barred him from seeking a fourth two-year term in 1997.
A prominent developer, he heads the annual Lanier Public Policy Conference at the University of Houston.
In 2001, Lanier was treated for an irregular heartbeat when his internal defibrillator shocked his heart after sensing a potentially dangerous irregular rhythm.
Lanier underwent triple-bypass surgery in 1998, three months after a mild heart attack. Lanier's wife, Elyse, was recently named a commissioner with the Port of Houston Authority.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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