Fredric T. Suss Sr., 91; Japanese War Crimes Prosecutor

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fredric T. Suss Sr., 91, a lawyer who was the lead prosecutor in the 1946 Japanese war crimes trials on Guam, died Jan. 26 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at his home in Potomac. He was a former Chevy Chase resident.

Mr. Suss was born in New Britain, Conn., and attended the College of the Holy Cross before being accepted to law school at Northeastern University, where he received his law degree in 1942.

During World War II, he initially served as a Navy communications officer and then joined the Judge Advocate General's Corps. His work in the Guam war crimes trials resulted in the convictions of Lt. Gen. Joshio Tachibana and other Japanese officers accused of cannibalism and other atrocities committed against American prisoners of war on the island of Chichi Jima in the South Pacific. In later years, he provided historical background to Hank Searls for his 1987 historical novel, "Kataki," set in the South Pacific during the war, and James Bradley for his 2003 book, "Flyboys: A True Story of Courage," about a group of Navy fighter pilots in the South Pacific that included future president George H.W. Bush.

After retiring from the Navy, Mr. Suss moved to the Washington area to join the staff of Rep. John Foster Furcolo (D-Mass.). He also worked as a staff trial attorney for the Federal Trade Commission and as general counsel for the Small Business Administration during the Kennedy administration.

He then went into private practice, specializing in antitrust law, before accepting a position in 1975 with the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany. He served as an administrative law judge until his retirement in 1980, when he moved to Queenstown, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

His wife, Hilda McGuire Suss, died in 1982.

Survivors include eight children, Susan Jones of Germantown, Christopher "Kip" Suss of North Beach, Jonathan "Jack" Suss of Silver Spring, Fred Suss Jr. of Easton, Jane Wilkes of Queenstown, Rosemary Cammaroto of Potomac, Madeline Suss of Bluemont and Jennifer Gilmer of Bethesda; and six grandchildren.

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