Fred Marshall, 79, a Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1963 and was a member of the Agriculture and Appropriations committees, died June 5 at Meeker County Hospital. He had a heart ailment and Hodgkin's disease.

Mr. Marshall broke into politics in 1948 when he unseated 6th District Republican Harold Knutson, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It was Mr. Marshall's first try for elective office, and he became the first Democratic congressman from the central Minnesota district since the 1800s.

He drew immediate attention to himself in Washington when, in response to a Washington Star survey of new congressmen, he described himself simply as "Fred Marshall, farmer, married, two children." The newspaper then did an extensive feature on the modest new congressman.

"This was an unassuming man with no political know-how," said former Rep. John Blatnik, who represented Minnesota's Eighth District for 14 terms and served with Mr. Marshall. "He had no charisma. I don't think he'd even know how to spell it. But he was a man of solid substance. If there ever was a man of the soil from the Midwest -- a grass-roots populist -- he was it."

Mr. Marshall was known for his independent voting patterns, which helped him solidify support in his home district. In his first year in Congress he parted with the Democratic majority on tax and economic policy bills on six of 16 votes. In 1954 he was the only one of 396 voting House members to oppose excise tax cuts.