Charles Sawyer, 92, a Cincinnati lawyer who was secretary of commerce for nearly five years under President Harry S. Truman, died Saturday in Palm Beach, Fla. He died of natural causes, according to a family spokesman.
Mr. Sawyer also was the official appointed by President Truman to seize and manage the nation's steel mills on April 8, 1952.
The seizure came about when labor and management were unable to agree to a new contract, and the unions announced a nation-wide strike.
Mr. Sawyer were among those officials that advised President Truman that a nation-wide steel shutdown would result in armament shortages. This was during the Korean conflict.
The Supreme Court pronounced the seizure illegal on June 2, 1952.
During his years as secretary, Mr. Sawyer favored an expansion of the U.S. merchant fleet, and helped supervise "selective decontrol" of strategic materials. He also was a proponent of European recovery measures.
He resigned his post in 1953 and returned to Cincinnati where he was a senior partner in the firm of Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister.
Mr. Sawyer was a native of Cincinnati. He earned a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College and a law degree at the University of Cincinnati. He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1911.
He served as an infantry officer overseas during World War I, achieving the rank of major.
He was elected to a two-year term as lietenant governor of Ohio in 1932 and was a member of the Democratic National Committee from Ohio from 1936 until 1944.
Mr. Sawyer was appointed ambassador to Belgium and minister to Luxembourg in the fall of 1944. He worked to restore art treasures taken by the Germans during World War II, and championed Belgian requests for U.S. credits for war recovery.
He resigned at the end of 1945, saying that he felt that the first phase of the Belgian recovery program was completed and his mission with it.
He had served on the board of a number of corporations, including the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He was a Mason. His other memberships included the Chevey Chase and National Press clubs.
Mr. Sawyer had belonged to the American, Federal, and Ohio bar associations.
Survivors include two sons, John and Edward, both of Cincinnati; two daughters, Anne Greene, of Dayton, Ohio, and Jean Weaver, of Hillsborogh, Calif.; 21 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, CHARLES SAWYER 1953 Photo