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Florida's Rep. Tillie Fowler Dies; Defense-Minded Republican

She served in the White House as general counsel in the Office of Consumer Affairs from 1970 to 1971.

Afterward, Rep. Fowler moved to Jacksonville, where her husband's family lived, and grew active in volunteer activities and the Junior League. Those connections created an enormous base of supporters and money for her campaigns. She also switched party affiliations because of the Republicans' stated belief in small government.

After serving four terms in Congress, Tillie Fowler led a panel investigating allegations of sexual misconduct at the U.S. Air Force Academy. (2003 Washington Post Photo)

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She was a member of the Jacksonville City Council from 1985 to 1992. In 1989, as the first female council president, she ordered the arrest of three black council members who walked out of a council hearing when they were denied better funding for sewage and drainage projects affecting their constituents.

With several other council members absent, Rep. Fowler called in the police because she needed a quorum to continue work on passing the budget. In the aftermath, she spent significant time repairing the public relations damage and denying that her actions were racially motivated.

"Some people thought that would be the end of my career," she told the Jacksonville Times-Union in 2003. "But I wasn't thinking about my career."

She succeeded retiring Rep. Charles E. Bennett (D) in the House. She pledged to serve no more than four terms, a pledge she briefly reconsidered after a surge of negative television ads began calling her "Slick Tillie," a variation on a slur for President Bill Clinton.

In recent years, she was a Washington-based partner at the Holland & Knight law firm and did lobbying on behalf of Jacksonville during debate over military base realignment and closures.

Survivors include her husband of 37 years, L. Buck Fowler of Jacksonville; two daughters, Tillie A. Fowler of Washington and Elizabeth Fowler of San Francisco; a brother; and two sisters.

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