Of note: Graham W. Watt, Betty Binns Fletcher and Jeff Blatnick

October 24, 2012
Graham W. Watt
deputy D.C. mayor

Graham W. Watt, 85, a public administrator who served as deputy mayor and city administrator of Washington from 1969 to 1973, died Oct. 16 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He had brain cancer, said his son, Terrence G. Watt.

Mr. Watt was city manager of Dayton, Ohio, before President Richard M. Nixon appointed him to deputy to Washington Mayor Walter E. Washington, who also was presidentially appointed at the time.

Mr. Watt left the No. 2 job in Washington city government to direct the Treasury Department’s revenue sharing office. He left the Treasury Department in 1975 to become president of the nonprofit National Training and Development Service for State and Local Government in Washington.

In 1979, he moved to Broward County, Fla., and served as county administrator until 1982. He later worked in consulting, working frequently with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Jeff Blatnick overcame cancer to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics. He has died at the age of 55. (Doug Pizac/AP)

Graham Wend Watt was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and raised mostly in Chestertown, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He was a Navy veteran of World War II.

He was a 1949 graduate of Washington College in Chestertown and received a master’s degree in governmental administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1951.

His wife of 53 years, the former Mary “Bidi” Irish, died in 2002. Survivors include two children, Laurie F. Watt of New Orleans and Terrence G. Watt of Alexandria; and three grandchildren.

Betty Binns Fletcher
appeals court judge

Judge Betty Binns Fletcher, considered a liberal stalwart of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for decades, died Oct. 22 in Seattle. She was 89.

A spokesman for the San Francisco-based appeals court confirmed the death but said the cause was not immediately known.

Appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, Judge Fletcher was known for rulings upholding affirmative action, allowing claims of workplace discrimination to proceed, overturning death penalty cases and protecting the environment. She was one of the first female partners at a major law firm in the country, and the second woman appointed to the 9th Circuit.

Many of Judge Fletcher’s favorite opinions were overturned by an increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court, her son, 9th Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher, wrote in a 2010 tribute. He called it her “distinguished record of reversals.”

She was also known for getting back at Republicans in the U.S. Senate who held up her son’s appointment to the 9th Circuit in the 1990s.

In 1996, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) insisted that because of an obscure, 19th-century anti-nepotism law, Betty Fletcher needed to take senior, or semi-retired, status before her son could join the court. That would free up her seat to be filled with an appointee acceptable to then-Republican senator Slade Gorton of Washington.

Judge Fletcher agreed — but instead of slowing down as a semi-retired judge, she maintained a full caseload.

Judge Fletcher was born in Tacoma, Wash., where her father was a lawyer. She graduated in 1943 from Stanford University and in 1956 from the University of Washington’s law school. She then was hired at the Seattle firm Preston, Thorgrimson and Horowitz, which eventually became K & L Gates.

Jeff Blatnick
Olympian

Jeff Blatnick, who overcame cancer to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics, died of cardio-pulmonary arrest at a hospital in Schenectady, N.Y. He was 55.

Hospital officials announced the death.

Mr. Blatnick was a high school state champion in suburban Albany in the mid-1970s and won national titles at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

He qualified for the U.S. Olympic team and was a member of the 1980 squad that didn’t compete because the United States boycotted that year’s games in Moscow.

In 1982, he was found to have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was treated and went into remission in time to win gold in Los Angeles in 1984.

He went on to a career as a sports commentator and motivational speaker.

— From staff and wire services