John J. 'Jay' Rhodes III, congressman, lobbyist

Saturday, January 22, 2011; 6:33 PM

John J. "Jay" Rhodes III, 67, an Arizona Republican who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and became a lobbyist, died Jan. 20 at the VA Medical Center in Washington.

Mr. Rhodes died of injuries suffered in a single-car accident in Mesa, Ariz., in October, said his brother Tom Rhodes.

Mr. Rhodes's father served 30 years in the U.S. House, where he became minority leader. His father retired from the House in 1983, and the seat was then held for two terms by John McCain before he launched a career in the Senate.

The younger Mr. Rhodes ¿ who called himself a "traditional Goldwater Republican" in a reference to the conservative Arizona senator Barry Goldwater ¿ was elected to his father's old seat in 1986. The district included parts of Phoenix as well as the cities of Mesa and Tempe.

Jay Rhodes, a lawyer who specialized in water rights, served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

His involvement in the House banking scandal ¿ he admitted to 32 overdrafts in the informal House bank ¿ in part left him vulnerable when he sought reelection in 1992. He narrowly defeated a challenger in the Republican primary and then lost to Democrat Sam Coppersmith in the general election.

Mr. Rhodes became a lawyer and lobbyist in the Washington office of the law firm Hunton and Williams. His primary concerns were natural resource projects in the Lower Colorado River Basin.

John Jacob Rhodes III was a native of Mesa. He graduated in 1961 from the private Landon School in Bethesda. He was a 1965 graduate of Yale University and a 1968 graduate of the University of Arizona law school.

After law school, he served in the Army for two years doing intelligence work in Vietnam. He entered Arizona politics as a young man, serving as a Republican district chairman and president of the Mesa Board of Education.

Mr. Rhodes, who had homes in Washington and Mesa, was a past president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. As a member of the organization, he participated in election monitoring in Afghanistan and in Ukraine in recent years.

His first two marriages, to Peggy Puntenney and Ann Chase, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of seven years, Jane Firor of Washington and Mesa; three sons from his first marriage, John Rhodes and Jeremy Rhodes, both of the Phoenix area, and Taylor Rhodes of London; a son from his second marriage, Arthur Rhodes; his mother, Betty Rhodes of Tempe; two brothers; a sister; and seven grandchildren.


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