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Henry J. Hyde, 83; Forceful GOP House Member

As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) spoke at a news conference in 1998 before impeachment hearings began against President Bill Clinton, which he called
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) spoke at a news conference in 1998 before impeachment hearings began against President Bill Clinton, which he called "this melancholy procedure." (By Ray Lustig -- The Washington Post)

He supported the Brady Bill, legislation that imposed a waiting period on gun purchases, and, after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, he backed 24-hour background checks for gun sales at gun shows.

He also supported a ban on assault weapons. They "have no other purpose than to kill a lot of people in a hurry," he said.

Last year, Mr. Hyde questioned efforts of the Bush administration to spread democracy. "The magic formula of democracy alone" will not work, he said.

In 2001, Mr. Hyde became chairman of the House International Relations Committee (now the Committee on Foreign Affairs). He had wanted to continue as chairman of the Judiciary Committee but was unable to secure a waiver of the GOP's term-limit requirement for the position.

He announced in 2005 that he would retire at the end of his term, citing back problems and other ailments that made it difficult to get around.

He hated to leave, he told friends and former colleagues at a dinner last year.

"When I cross the river for the last time," he said, echoing comments that Gen. Douglas MacArthur made about the Army, "my thoughts will be of the House, the House, the House."

His wife of 45 years, Jeanne Simpson Hyde, died in 1992. His eldest son, Henry "Hank" Hyde Jr., died in 2005.

Survivors include his wife, Judy Wolverton of Chicago, his former chief of staff whom he married last year; three children from his first marriage, Robert Hyde of Irving, Tex., Laura Hyde of Chicago and Anthony Hyde of Elk Grove, Ill.; and five grandchildren.


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