Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr., 84, former congressman, Baltimore mayor, Maryland state legislator and enduring patriarch of traditional city machine politics, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 23 in the coronary intensive care unit of Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.
Mr. D'Alesandro had a heart attack Aug. 7 while vacationing in Ocean City. He was taken to Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury, where he remained until being transferred to Mercy Hospital Aug. 16.
Genial, wisecracking, but tough when necessary, Mr. D'Alesandro was known as much for his natty bow tie and straw boater as for his keen political sense and skills at party infighting.
Son of an immigrant laborer, Mr. D'Alesandro rose from the streets of Baltimore's Little Italy in a classic American odyssey to become a staunch New Deal Democrat in Congress during the Roosevelt years as well as one of his city's most popular mayors for 12 years after that.
As mayor from 1947 to 1959, he laid much of the groundwork for the renaissance of Baltimore's Inner Harbor and played a key role in getting the old St. Louis Browns major league baseball team to come to Baltimore, where it was renamed the Baltimore Orioles.
Known affectionately as Tommy, Mr. D'Alesandro also has been credited with creating a modest political dynasty. His eldest son, Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, followed him as mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971. His daughter, Nancy Pelosi, was elected to the House of Representatives last spring as a Democrat from San Francisco.
Weaned on the often bitter milk of precinct politics, Mr. D'Alesandro worked his way up through the gritty neighborhoods of east Baltimore in the 1920s, parlaying Italian, Jewish, Irish and black political machines and their bosses in a series of on again, off again alliances until he established his own city-wide organization.
He went on to win 22 consecutive elections to public office during the next four decades, serving first as a delegate in the Maryland General Assembly and a member of the Baltimore City Council before going on to become mayor and a member of Congress.
As early as 1927, when he was only 24 years old in the state legislature, he gained a reputation as scrappy fighter, leading a successful campaign to rescind a law forbidding movies on Sunday.
He did not lose an election until 1958, when he was knocked out in a bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican J. Glenn Beall. He lost again the next year in a vain effort to recapture his old post as mayor of Baltimore. He dropped out of electoral politics permanently after that.
A populist figure whose formal education stopped just short of the eighth grade, he was admired by supporters and opponents alike for his affable manner and skill at working crowds from parades to funerals.
"His whole life was politics," said his son Thomas III. " . . . . He was not what you would call a flaming liberal, but he was a progressive."
While in Congress from 1938 to 1947, Mr. D'Alesandro served as chairman of the House District Committee, where he became known in those pre-home rule days as the "mayor of Washington."
He took a protective stance toward Washington's disenfranchised residents. He favored full suffrage and called for District representation in both House and Senate. In addition, he urged a subway to alleviate downtown traffic and sought a high-speed road from Washington to Baltimore.
A lifelong resident of Little Italy, a tiny enclave near the Inner Harbor in his ethnically balkanized city, Mr. D'Alesandro was born Aug. 1, 1903, one of 13 children. As a child, he earned pocket money selling newspapers. He once considered becoming a Roman Catholic priest but gradually found himself drawn to the more temporal challenges of politics.
Once elected to office, he rarely engaged in other endeavors. For one brief time during the 1930s, he served as a federal tax collector.
During World War II, while in Congress, he frequently participated in broadcasts to Italy for the Office of War Information, urging Italian soldiers to throw down their weapons.
After his electoral defeats in 1958 and 1959, he continued public service work, serving as member of the federal Renegotiation Board from 1961 to 1969 and as a member of the Maryland State Board of Parole (later called the Maryland Parole Commission) from 1971 to 1981.
In addition to Thomas III and Nancy Pelosi, his survivors include his wife, Nancy; four sons, Franklin, Nicholas, Hector and Joseph; a brother, Anthony; and two sisters, Mary Cardegna and Jessie Granese, all of Baltimore.
GORDON ANTHONY HESS, 59, a retired detective on the Metropolitan Police Department and a decorated veteran of World War II, died of cancer Aug. 21 at the Humana Hospital-Bayside in Virginia Beach.
Mr. Hess, who lived in Virginia Beach, was born in Washington. He attended Sidwell Friends School until he enlisted in the Army at age 15 in World War II. He served in Europe in the 82nd Airborne Division and won the Silver Star and two Purple Heart medals.
After the war, he attended George Washington University. In 1948, he joined the police department and was promoted to detective two years later. He was assigned to the homicide squad and then the vice squad, where he retired in 1966 on a physical disability.
In 1970, Mr. Hess moved to Virginia Beach and became a private investigator. He worked for the Wackenhut company for a time and then for himself.
His marriage to Leeta Hess ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Lois A. Hess of Virginia Beach; three children by his first marraige, Karen Simmons of Sydney, Australia, Judith A. Binsted of Rockville and Kelly E. Branthover of Germantown, Md.; one child by his second marriage, Kurt D. Hess of Virginia Beach; two stepsons, Joseph and John Chantiles, both of Gaithersburg; one brother, Joseph W. Hess of Reno, Nev., and three grandchildren.
FRANZ ALBERT GROEMPING, 78, a retired Bureau of Labor Statistics labor economist, died of cancer Aug. 20 at the Hospice of Northern Virginia.
Mr. Groemping, a Falls Church resident, was born in Borken, Germany. He moved to New York in 1926 and to Washington a year later.
He received a degree in economics from American University, worked as a photographer's assistant before World War II, then served in the Army during the war.
After the war, Mr. Groemping joined the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He retired in 1975 as chief of the European branch of the division of foreign labor conditions. Earlier he had worked in a program to bring foreign labor leaders to the United States to study labor conditions in this country.
He was the author of a book, "Transition From School to Work in Selected Countries."
In retirement, Mr. Groemping taught English to Asian immigrants at a community center in Annandale.
His first wife, Priscilla Groemping, died in childbirth in 1937.
Survivors include his wife, Ruth Groemping of Falls Church; their son, Ralph Groemping of Silver Spring; one daughter by his first marriage, Priscilla MacDougall of Enfield, N.H., and three grandchildren.
ELSIE M. BABCOCK, 90, a retired government secretary who had worked at the old War Department and the Department of the Interior, died Aug. 20 at her home in Washington after several strokes.
Mrs. Babcock was born on Prince Edward Island in Canada and moved to Washington in 1918. She was a secretary at the War Department until the 1930s when she became a secretary with the Interior Department's division of territories and island possessions. She returned to the War Department during World War II, and she retired from the Defense Department in the 1950s.
Later she worked as a secretary to the treasurer of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation at the Washington Cathedral until she retired again in the early 1960s.
Mrs. Babcock traveled extensively with her husband, Clarence J. Babcock, an Agriculture Department official who died in 1958.
She was a member of the Army & Navy Club and the Kenwood Golf and Country Club.
There are no immediate survivors.
RAYMOND LEVINE, 75, a retired mate with the old A.H. Bull Steamship Co. and the U.S. Lines who had lived in the Washington area for more then 40 years, died Aug. 20 at the Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton after a heart attack. He was a resident of Temple Hills.
Mr. Levin was born in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York, where he also received a master's degree in French. He moved to the Washington area in 1941 and went to work for the Navy Department's Office of Hydrographics.
He later became a merchant sailor and worked for the old A.H. Bull Steamship Co. in Baltimore from 1948 to 1968. For the next two years, he worked for U.S. Lines in Baltimore. He retired in 1970 with the rank of second officer.
Mr. Levine was a member of the Prince George's Camera Club and the Photographic Society of America.
Survivors include his wife, Louise W. Levine of Temple Hills, and one sister, Ruth Schwartz of North Miami Beach, Fla.
MABEL C. MASI, 95, a retired administrative assistant with the old Office of the Quartermaster General of the Army, died Aug. 20 at Arlington Hospital after a heart attack. She lived in Arlington.
Mrs. Masi was born in Washington and graduated from the old Central High School. She went to work for the Office of the Quartermaster General in 1941 and retired in 1959. She was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Arlington.
Her husband, Joseph W. Masi, died in 1945.
Survivors include one son, Philip M. Masi of Olean, N.Y.; two daughters, Miriam M. Scull of Falls Church and Elizabeth J. Masi of Arlington; seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
CATHERINE R. YOUNG, 65, a retired Fairfax County school teacher, died of cancer Aug. 21 at her home in McLean.
Mrs. Young was born in East Moline, Ill. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in foods and nutrition.
She moved to the Washington area in 1960, and from 1966 to 1978 she was a home economics teacher at George C. Marshall High School. She was a restaurant trades teacher at Chantilly High School from 1978 until she retired earlier this year.
The Virginia Home Economics Teachers Association named her Teacher of the Year for the North Mid Region this year.
Her marriage to Max Oldham ended in divorce. Her second husband, William Young, died in April.
Survivors include four daughters by her first marriage, Linda Ikle of Denver, Marcia Johnson of Fairfax, Calif., Faye Ameredes of Garden City, Mich., and Karla Mantilla of Sterling, Va.; one son by her first marriage, Brett Oldham of Great Falls, and seven grandchildren.