Rep. Tennyson Guyer, 67, a Republican who had represented Ohio's 5th District since 1973 and was known for his speeches on inspirational and patriotic topics, died Sunday at his home in Alexandria. He had a history of heart problems.
During his years in Congress, he served on the Veteran's and the Foreign Affairs committees, and the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. He recently had chaired a special House subcommittee investigating the problem of Americans still missing in action in Southeast Asia.
His voting record was that of a loyal follower of the House Republican leadership. It also reflected the rural, conservative district he represented and the morality of a man who was an ordained life minister in the 100,000-member fundamentalist Churches of God of North America.
Although not known for partisan political oratory in the Capitol, Rep. Guyer gained a degree of fame as a speaker on the lecture circuit. He once told a reporter that he had delivered more than 10,000 speeches, spoken in all 50 states and in 24 foreign nations. He appeared before Rotarians, Lions clubs, and high school and college audiences.
"I don't like to give political speeches," he said, choosing to address his listeners on subjects ranging from contemporary morality to "The Miracle Called America." The Dayton Journal Herald once called him an unabashed "King of Corn," while to others he was "Ohio's Ambassador of Good Will."
His speeches always contained an element of "corn" and also poked fun at the speaker. He once began a speech with, "You know, it isn't often I get such a nice introduction. For example, the other night a fellow says, 'We now bring you the latest dope from Washington . . . Mr. Guyer."
Rep. Guyer said he was "born, bred and buttered" in Findlay, Ohio. He was a 1934 graduate of Findlay College, then began a varied career that included stints as a circus clown and professional orator.
Findlay was where Norman Vincent Peale held his first newspaper job, Zane Grey played on the local baseball team, and where the man who wrote "Down By The Old Mill Stream" lived.
In the 1940s, he became pastor of the Celina (Ohio) Church of God and later worked as public relations director for a tire company. He was mayor of from 1940 to 1944, served in the Ohio State Senate from 1959 to 1972. He was elected to the 93rd Congress in 1972 to succeed the retiring William McCulloch.
Rep. Guyer had served on the executive committee of the Ohio Republican State Committee and the board of trustees of Findlay College.
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Mae Guyer, of the homes in Alexandria and Findlay; two daughters, Sharon Guyer of Hartford, Conn., and Rosetta Kae Benedict of Bowie, and one grandchild.