Carl Shipley, D.C. Lawyer and GOP Leader, Dies at 82
By Bart Barnes
Carl L. Shipley, 82, a Washington lawyer for 40 years and a Republican Party leader in the District of Columbia from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, died Aug. 25 at his home in Naples, Fla. He had Parkinson's disease.
Mr. Shipley was Republican chairman for the District from 1958 to 1968, and he later served as Republican National Committee member for the city. This period coincided with a long-running citywide debate on home rule for the nation's capital, and Mr. Shipley was outspoken on the issue, although he changed his mind often. At various times, he supported home rule, opposed it, and suggested a governor and a legislature for the District.
During the years of Mr. Shipley's leadership of Washington Republicans -- a minority party in a heavily Democratic city -- the national capital was governed by a presidentially appointed three-member board of commissioners and later by a presidentially appointed mayor and council.
Professionally, Mr. Shipley specialized in international and securities law. He was founding partner of the law firm of Shipley, Smoak & Henry, where he practiced until 1988, when he retired and relocated full time to his winter residence in Florida.
He was born in Washington state, graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Harvard Law School, then returned to the Washington area and began his legal career. During the 1950s, he was adjunct professor of communications law at American University, and he was author of scholarly articles for legal journals. He had been general counsel for Pan American Airways.
In 1957, he was chairman of the committee for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inaugural ball, and the following year, he became D.C Republican Party chairman. Since residents of the District of Columbia had no vote for government office at the time, this position consisted primarily of speaking out on public issues and tending to party organizational and administrative matters.
At times during his career, Mr. Shipley supported proposals for home rule for Washington, but at other times, he argued that it was a "widespread myth" that Washington residents wanted full self-government. When city residents did get limited voting rights, he defined Republican objectives as not so much to win local elections as to "give voters an alternative" and to help the Republican Party nationally.
At a 1967 panel discussion on "Home Rule and Poverty," he drew an angry response when he declared, "There are people who just won't work, and we should get rid of them so they won't be standing around on corners and holding up liquor stores." Society, he said, "has the right to require people to be productive . . . and has to channel nonproductive members into rehabilitation establishments."
In a 1972 Washington Post editorial, Mr. Shipley was described as "somewhat of a perennial in GOP politics here, having run successfully -- and remarkably -- on a simple policy of shooting from the hip. No one's ever sure of what he'll say next."
Mr. Shipley had served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Commission, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Commission and the National Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the Capitol Hill Club and the Army and Navy Club.
His first wife, Nancy Kane Shipley, died in 1992 after 45 years of marriage.
Survivors include his wife, Barbara Baumann Shipley of Naples; two sons from his first marriage, Zachary Kane Shipley of Palm Beach, Fla., and Joshua Beale Shipley of Vero Beach, Fla.; two stepchildren, Merrill John Baumann of Portland, Ore., and Melissa Baumann Siebert of Cape Town, South Africa; and six grandchildren.
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