Robert M. Menaugh, 73, who was superintendent of the House Radio Television Gallery for 35 years before retiring in 1974, died Wednesday at the Woodbine Nursing Home in Alexandria following a stroke.
During his years on the Hill, he helped lead the fight to achieve equal status for the broadcast journalist with that of the press.
Mr. Menaugh helped direct a long string of broadcast "firsts" in the House of Representatives. He guided the first live television broadcast of a State of the Union address, given by Harry S. Truman on Jan. 6, 1947, and the first color telecast of a State of the Union, delivered by Lyndon B. Johnson on Jan. 12, 1965.
He also helped coordinate live broadcast of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's "farewell address," a wartime speech given by Winston Churchill, and coverage of the 1954 shooting in the House chamber by Puerto Rican nationalists.
After retiring as superintendent in 1974, he received letters of appreciation from then president Ford, congressmen, and broadcast journalists, including Walter Cronkite and Joseph McCaffrey.
Mr. Menaugh was born in Salem, Ind. He came to Washinton in 1931 and worked as a doorman in the Speaker's Lobby before being named superintendent of the old House Radio Gallery in 1939.
He served as a colonel in the Army's Bureau of Public Relations during World War 11.
During his years as head of the gallery it grew from 26 reporters in 1939 to an association of 565 reporters representing more than 130 news organizations.
In 1973, Mr. Menaugh received the John W. McCormack Award of Excellence as the outstanding employe of the House of Representatives.
He was a Mason and member of the National Press Club.
Mr. Menaugh was a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria.
He is survived by his wife, Helen, of the home in Alexandria: A daughter, Mrs. John Baxter, of Wheaton, Ill., a brother, John, of Salem, Ind., and two grandchildren