W. Proctor Jones, Powerful Senate Staffer and Energy Lobbyist, Dies at 68

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Jones became an energy lobbyist.
After leaving the Senate, Mr. Jones became an energy lobbyist. (Family Photo - Family Photo)
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

W. Proctor Jones, 68, a powerful Senate staffer for more than 34 years who became an energy lobbyist, died of lung cancer July 7 at his home near Flint Hill in Rappahannock County, Va.

Mr. Jones was staff director or minority staff director of the Senate's Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee from 1978 until he retired in 1997.

He had worked on Capitol Hill since 1960, when he arrived as an intern. He was widely regarded as "the Senate's go-to man" on matters about the Army Corps of Engineers' civil works, nuclear weapons development and environmental cleanup, scientific research and energy-related issues, then-Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-S.C.) said upon Mr. Jones' retirement.

As the top staff man on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mr. Jones was considered one of the five most powerful behind-the-scenes aides on the Hill.

"He was ever the student of the budget and appropriation processes," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said in 1997. "He was the master of the art of politics, forging compromises. He was the protector of the purse, evaluating federal programs under a microscope to ensure that they were necessary, effective, responsible and responsive."

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Jones worked for his longtime boss, Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), at a public affairs consulting company, Johnston & Associates, until it was acquired by the law firm Steptoe & Johnson. Mr. Jones was a senior government affairs adviser there at the time of his death.

William Proctor Jones was born in Bainbridge, Ga., and grew up in Savannah and Twin City, Ga. He attended the University of Georgia. In 1960, he moved to Washington as an intern and stayed on as a special assistant to Sen. Richard B. Russell Jr. (D-Ga.). He graduated from George Washington University in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Mr. Jones served in the Marine Corps for two years, returning to Capitol Hill in 1968 for a job on the Senate Appropriations Committee. In 1973, he became clerk of the Public Works Appropriations subcommittee, working for Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.). His job as staff director included funding tasks such as flood control, atomic energy research and nuclear waste storage facilities.

He was a trustee of the Richard B. Russell Foundation. He was a member of the vestry and a Sunday school superintendent at Christ Church in Alexandria and a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, Va.

His marriage to Mary Virginia Langston ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 12 years, Megan S. Smith of Flint Hill; two daughters from his first marriage, Heather L. Jones of Portland, Ore., and Lisa L. Jones of Washington; a brother; a sister; and two granddaughters.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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