Henry M. Kannee, 81, a Washington attorney who was personal stenographer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first two administrations, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Friday at Washington Hospital Center. He lived in Washington.
Mr. Kannee compiled the official record of President Roosevelt's speeches and press conferences from 1933 to 1941, when he left to become assistant to the president of Remington Rand Inc.
He first met Roosevelt in 1923 and did occasional jobs for him, including reporting the proceedings against Jimmy Walker, then mayor of New York. He accompanied then New York governor Roosevelt on the presidential campaign trips of 1932 and became official reporter and assistant to Roosevelt's secretary. He helped arrange presidential trips and intervieweds thousands of visitors and delegations to the White House.
Described in news reports as "expert in his work" and "a quiet young man, alert but utterly self-effacing, observing all but himself by preference unobserved," Mr. Kannee always sat at the president's elbow at press conference.
He had the reputation of never making a mistake. Once during a campaign trip, Felix Frankfurter, who later became a Supreme Court justice, got into a political argument with reporters. Bets were made and more than a score of angry debaters joined in. Mr. Kannee was called upon the record the argument and managed to get every word.
A native of New York City, he graduated from the National University School of Law, now part of George Washington University. He developed his shorthand skills as a court reporter for the New York State Supreme Court and practiced in spare moments by rapidly taking down passages from the Bible and Webster's Dictionary.
After leaving Remington Rand Inc. in 1947, he established a private law practice in Washington, specializing in tax and estate matters. He retired from full-time practice in the early 1960s.
Survivors include his wife, Anna S., of Washington, whom he married in 1926; two sons, Bruce N., of Silver Spring, and Eugene J., of Sun City, Ariz., and two grandchildren.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to charity.