H.R. Gross, 88, an Iowa Republican who served 26 years in the House of Representatives and gained a reputation as one of Capitol Hill's most aggressive opponents of waste and excess in government spending, died of Alzheimer's disease Sept. 22 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington.
Known widely as the "reigning curmudgeon" of the House, Mr. Gross was an astute parliamentarian who spent far more time on the House floor than did most of his colleagues and used House rules to block or delay passage of legislation he didn't like.
He was said to have read every bill that came before the House during his 13 terms in office, and he probably voted against more of them than any other representative. He opposed foreign aid, congressional trips at taxpayer expense and high salaries for government officials.
During the Kennedy presidency, he attacked an increase in the White House police force, demanding to know if the additional officers would be used to guard Caroline Kennedy's pony. During his first term in Congress, he voted against an extension of the Marshall Plan, the post-World War II program of economic assistance to Europe.
Mr. Gross also was caustically critical of governmental corruption or malfeasance, regardless of which political party it involved, and he generally ignored the Republican leadership in casting his vote. He never headed a major House committee, and he never held a leadership position in the House or in his party, but he nevertheless had a national constituency.
"There are three parties in the House: Democrats, Republicans and H.R. Gross," observed Gerald Ford when he was leader of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Gross looked as if he could have been the model for the farmer in Grant Wood's classic painting, "American Gothic." He had an ascetic appearance, thinning hair, glasses, a penetrating stare and a perpetually worried expression. He also had a bass voice that would resonate through the House chamber when he rose to demand, "Who dreamed up this boondoggle?" or "Just what's in this turkey?"
His opponents said he was a nit-picking nuisance who was often penny-wise and pound-foolish. To his admirers, he was the "watchdog of the Treasury," the "conscience of the House," and the embodiment of such traditional American values as thrift, integrity and hard work.
"If we didn't have an H.R. Gross, we'd have to invent him," said Rep. Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.) on Mr. Gross's retirement.
Harold Royce Gross was born on a farm in Arispe, Iowa. He served in the Army in the Mexican border campaign and later in World War I. He was gassed during the fighting in France and later discharged on disability.
After the war he attended Iowa State University and the University of Missouri school of journalism. He was an Iowa newspaper reporter and editor, then in the 1930s he joined radio station WHO in Des Moines as a reporter, editor and newscaster. A young sportscaster named Ronald Reagan was one of his colleagues on the radio station's staff, and Mr. Gross was an early supporter of Reagan's presidential candidacy.
As a radio newscaster, Mr. Gross was known throughout Iowa as Charlie Gross, and he was often called "the man with the fastest tongue in radio."
In 1948, he defeated a Republican incumbent in a primary election. He went on to win the general election in November from Iowa's 3rd Congressional District in the north-central part of the state. He won every subsequent election until he retired in 1975.
In each of his 13 terms in Congress, Mr. Gross introduced legislation to require a balanced budget and systematic repayment of the federal debt. Those measures never passed but, in deference to Mr. Gross's standing in the eyes of his colleagues, the designation H.R. 144 was set aside for his bills. The number 144 is 12 dozen, the number in a gross, and H.R. stands both for House of Representatives and Harold Royce.
Since his retirement from Congress, Mr. Gross had lived in Arlington.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Hazel E. Webster Gross of Arlington; two sons, Phil Gross of McLean and Air Force Col. Alan Gross of Alexandria; a brother, Sydney L. Gross of Osceola, Iowa; a sister, Lillian Underwood of Oxnard, Calif., and two grandsons.
LANGDON P. MARVIN JR.,
68, a former free-lance investigator, legislative consultant and lobbyist on Capitol Hill, died Sept. 12 at his home in Washington after a fall from his wheelchair. The D.C. Medical Examiner's office said the case was under investigation pending completion of tests.
Mr. Marvin was born in New York City. He graduated from Harvard University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. His father once was a law partner of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Roosevelt was Mr. Marvin's godfather.
During World War II he served in the Navy as chairman of the Interdepartmental Air Cargo Priorities Committee in Washington.
He remained here after the war and did free-lance work on Capitol Hill for various senators, representatives and congressional committees. In recent years he had been retired.
Mr. Marvin was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown.
Survivors include one sister, Diana M. Gibson of Hallowell, Maine.
KATHRYN E. CRONISTER,
76, who worked for the Agriculture Department for 36 years before retiring in 1972 as assistant to the director of the Agriculture Research Service, died Sept. 22 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She had renal failure.
She was a member of the Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, where she served on the management board and belonged to women's organizations.
Miss Cronister, who lived in Chevy Chase, moved to Washington and joined Agriculture in 1936 as an economist and information specialist. Her later posts included that of an information division chief in the department's human nutrition and home economics bureau.
She was born in Peoria, Ill., and raised in Pittsburgh. She earned a bachelor's degree in business economics at the University of Pittsburgh.
Miss Cronister was a member of the American Home Economics Association.
Survivors include a brother, Vernon D. Cronister of Greenville, S.C.
95, a resident of the Washington area for 75 years, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 22 at the Southern Maryland Hospital Center.
Mrs. Lipscomb, a resident of Annapolis, was born in North Babylon, N.Y. She moved to Washington when she was 20. She worked as a domestic from the late 1950s until the late 1960s.
Her husband, Theodric Blan Lipscomb, died in 1949, and a son, Charles Edward Lipscomb, died in 1948.
Survivors include a son, Theodric Blan Lipscomb Jr. of Annapolis; a sister, Marie Linton of Brookeville, Md.; three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
EDWARD LEWIS BRADY,
68, a former associate director for international affairs at the National Bureau of Standards, died of cancer Sept. 20 at his home in Chevy Chase.
Brady moved here and joined the National Bureau of Standards in 1963. Initially he was in charge of its programs to gather, analyze and publish scientific and technical information.
In 1978, he was named associate director for international affairs. He was instrumental in drafting agreements relating to the exchange of scientific and technical personnel between the United States and the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. He retired earlier this year.
A native of Charleston, S.C., Brady graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he also received a master's degree in chemistry. He received a doctorate in physical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Before moving to the Washington area, he was involved in nuclear energy research at the University of Chicago and the Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Later he worked 10 years at General Electric's Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., then was U.S. Atomic Energy Commission representative to Britain and senior scientific adviser of the U.S. mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. From 1961 to 1963, he was with General Dynamics Corp. in San Diego.
Brady was awarded the Department of Commerce's Silver Medal for meritorious service in 1980.
He was a member of the Cosmos Club.
Survivors include his wife, Evelyn Brady of Chevy Chase.
JOSEPH L. D'ABBONDANZA SR.,
63, a former barbershop owner who also had owned Dabby's Corner Inn, a tavern in Wheaton, died of cancer Sept. 22 at Suburban Hospital. He lived in Rockville.
Mr. D'Abbondanza was born in Washington and graduated from McKinley Technical High School. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the South Atlantic.
After the war, he became a barber with the old Phillips' Barber Shop in Wheaton. He bought the shop in 1954 and operated it for 17 years. He opened his tavern at the same site in 1971 and retired in 1984.
Mr. D'Abbondanza was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the SS Omaha Association. He also was a member of St. Jude's Catholic Church in Rockville.
His marriage to the former Mary Lou Fender ended in divorce.
Survivors include a daughter, Joanna D'Abbondanza of Washington; two sons, Jerry M. and Joseph L. D'Abbondanza Jr., both of Rockville; three brothers, Anthony and Augustine D'Abbondanza, both of Washington, and Henry D'Abbondanza of Rockville; three sisters, Louise Likins of Gaithersburg, and Mary and Jessie D'Abbondanza, both of Washington, and three grandchildren.
MARIE W. SUTO,
70, a retired government employe and member of the Arlington Church of Christ who had lived in this area since 1938, died of cancer Sept. 22 at the Hospice of Northern Virginia. She lived in Falls Church.
She was a typist with the Agriculture Department from 1938 to 1941 and a secretary with the Arlington County government from 1958 until retiring in 1976.
Mrs. Suto was a native of Vernon, Ala. She attended Mississippi State College for Women and the University of Tennessee.
Survivors include her husband, William A. Suto of Falls Church; a son, Alexander W. Suto of Atlanta; a daughter, Joan S. Hartselle of Newnan, Ga.; four sisters, Pauline Mitchener of Columbus, Miss., Evelyn Henley of Ocean Springs, Miss., and Mary Eunice Moor and Margaret Andrews, both of West Point, Miss., and three grandchildren.