Jamie L. Whitten
JACKSON, Miss. -- Former Rep. Jamie Lloyd Whitten, a Mississippi farm boy who served a record 53 years in the House of Representatives and for several years exerted quiet control over the nation's purse strings, died yesterday. He was 83.
Mr. Whitten, who retired in 1994, died from complications of chronic cardiac and renal disease with acute respiratory distress, doctors said. He had been hospitalized since Monday.
The conservative Democrat served with 11 presidents and chaired the powerful House Appropriations Committee from 1979 to 1992. Elected to Congress in 1941, about a month before Pearl Harbor, he was at retirement the last member of Congress to have been in office when the United States entered World War II.
He won re-election 26 times, and on Jan. 6, 1992, broke Georgia Democrat Carl Vinson's record for longest service in the House. The late Carl Hayden, an Arizona Democrat who was in the House and later the Senate for a combined 56 years, holds the record for combined Congressional service.
Mr. Whitten was sometimes called the "permanent secretary of agriculture" for his interest in farm matters. He chaired the Appropriations Committee's agriculture subcommittee from 1949 to 1952 and from 1956 until retirement.
Even though his northern Mississippi district was more than half black, Mr. Whitten signed the 1956 Southern Manifesto declaring that the Supreme Court's landmark desegregation case two years earlier started the United States "on the downhill road to integration and amalgamation and ruin."
He opposed Medicare, expansion of the food stamp program and nearly all anti-poverty programs, and voted against all major civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Democrats in 1978 tried to block his ascension to chairman of appropriations, but then-Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill of Massachusetts stepped in assure his longtime poker-playing buddy the chairmanship.
In return, Mr. Whitten began supporting food stamps and liberal programs backed by the Democratic Party, and fellow Democrats continued to back him as appropriations chairman until health problems interfered with his ability to run the committee.
Raymond Koontz, 83, who orchestrated Diebold Inc.'s transformation from a manufacturer of bank vaults and safes into a leading maker of automated teller machines, died Thursday in Canton, Ohio. He was president of Diebold from 1952 to 1978, a period when Diebold's annual revenue nearly doubled, to $451 million from $229 million.
Ricardo Sanchez, 54, a high school dropout and ex-convict whose raging cries for cultural justice gave poetic voice to the Chicano protest movement of the 1970s, died of stomach cancer Sept. 3 in El Paso. He was a tenured professor of creative writing and Chicano studies at Washington State University. He spent nine years in Texas and California prisons in the 1960s before receiving a doctorate from the Union Institute in Cincinnati.
David Farrar, 87, a British actor whose dark and rather sinister good looks helped vault him to fame and then helped to diminish it, died Aug. 31 in South Africa, where he had lived in recent years. In the 1940s, he appeared in two films directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, "Black Narcissus," and "The Small Back Room."