Md. Economic Secretary Joseph G. Anastasi Dies

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 23, 2005

Joseph G. Anastasi, 68, who was the Maryland economic development secretary in the 1970s and a Democratic campaign manager before embarking on a career as a developer, died Dec. 20 of a brain tumor at Casey House hospice in Rockville.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Anastasi was a well-known figure in Maryland politics, beginning as a local committee chairman in Silver Spring supporting the 1960 presidential run of John F. Kennedy.

In 1966, he helped direct the Montgomery County fundraising effort for gubernatorial candidate Thomas Finan, who lost in the primaries. Mr. Anastasi was executive director of the 1968 Maryland presidential campaign of Hubert H. Humphrey, who scored a narrow victory in the state over Richard M. Nixon.

Mr. Anastasi then managed the successful campaign of Marvin Mandel, who was elected governor of Maryland in 1970. Two years later, Mr. Anastasi mounted a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to Republican Gilbert Gude.

In 1969, he began to work in the state Department of Economic and Community Development, becoming its secretary in 1973. He issued a pessimistic report in 1977, citing statistics that pointed out Maryland's slide in income, employment and other economic factors. Among other things, the report said the state had lost 41,200 manufacturing jobs between 1970 and 1975.

"It's not a sexy issue until you're broke or can't pay a bill," said Mr. Anastasi. He also warned that, without significant changes in policy, Maryland would be "running out of gas and oil, and a new house will cost $100,000."

Political leaders of both parties lambasted the gloomy forecast, although one former state senator told Mr. Anastasi that the state "owes you a debt of gratitude . . . although you'll probably lose your job for it."

Joseph Gabriel Anastasi was born in Washington and graduated from Gonzaga College High School. He served in the Navy and was a graduate of Georgetown University, where he met Kennedy, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. Anastasi resigned his post as economic development secretary in 1977 and ran for lieutenant governor the next year on the ticket with attorney general Francis "Bill" Burch. When Burch dropped out of the race in the summer of 1978, Mr. Anastasi became the campaign manager for acting-Gov. Blair Lee III, who unexpectedly lost in the Democratic primary to Harry R. Hughes, who went on to win the governorship.

After that, Mr. Anastasi was through with politics and entered the family business, Montgomery Realty Co., which was founded by his father. Mr. Anastasi, who was president of the company, helped develop commercial projects across the region and helped build schools in the South. He retired four years ago.

He served on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and was president of the Maryland Jaycees.

He lived in Silver Spring and was a member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Nancy Holmes Anastasi of Silver Spring; four children, Stephen J. Anastasi of Rockville, Andrew F. Anastasi of New York, and Daniel P. Anastasi and Mary Christine Sims, both of Kensington; his father, Joseph R. Anastasi of Rockville; and nine grandchildren.

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