Thomas W. Fletcher, 63, who served as Washington's deputy mayor and city administrator during a critical two years that followed the 1967 reorganization of the city government, died of diabetes Nov. 23 at his home in Palo Alto, Calif.
Mr. Fletcher was a local government administrator or consultant for his entire professional career, and he was widely recognized as one of the nation's leading experts in the field.
President Johnson picked him as the first deputy to Mayor-Commissioner Walter Washington, following the city government reorganization that replaced an appointed three-member board of commissioners with an appointed city executive and city council. That reorganization was the initial step that led in 1975 to an elected mayor and city council for the District of Columbia.
As deputy mayor and city administrator, Mr. Fletcher's assignment was to reorganize and modernize an encrusted city bureaucracy that was said by its critics to have grown notoriously unresponsive to the public's needs. A big, ruddy man with double chins and a hearty laugh, Mr. Fletcher took on that job with energy and enthusiasm. He always was careful, however, to remain in the background and defer to Walter Washington, who was to be the political chief of the new government.
Their jobs were complicated by the 1968 riots that followed the slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a variety of local controversies. But the chemistry between Mr. Fletcher and Washington worked. When the deputy mayor left in 1969 to become city manager of San Jose, there was considerable regret at his departure.
A native of Portland, Ore., Mr. Fletcher served in the Army during World War II. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He came to Washington after having served in several local government positions in California, including city administrator in Davis and city manager in San Diego.
He had accepted a job here with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and was driving across the country to Washington when the president decided Mr. Fletcher was the man he wanted as the city's deputy mayor. He put out a nationwide alert to find him. An FBI agent stopped Mr. Fletcher en route and put him on an Air Force plane for the nation's capital and an interview at the White House.
After serving as San Jose's city manager, Mr. Fletcher returned to Washington in May 1972 as president of the nonprofit National Training and Development Service for State and Local Government.
This coincided with a time of deep anguish in his personal life. Six months earlier his only daughter, Heidi Ann Fletcher, had been sentenced to nine years in prison for her role in a Washington bank robbery that resulted in the shooting death of a Washington police officer. The driver of the getaway vehicle in the incident, she was sentenced under the Youth Corrections Act. Two codefendants were sentenced to life in prison.
In 1975 Mr. Fletcher returned to California to teach local government management at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. From 1977 until 1982 he was director of the Center for Urban and Regional Policy at SRI International in Palo Alto. He then became vice president of Public Management Consulting Associates in Palo Alto.
He was also a cofounder of the Center for Excellence in Local Government, a Palo Alto-based organization that attempts to apply the principles of the book "In Search of Excellence" to local government.
In 1985 Mr. Fletcher was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Washington-based International City Management Association.
Survivors include his wife, Margerie Fletcher of Palo Alto; two sons, Thomas F. Fletcher of San Diego and Dean T. Fletcher of Portland; his daughter, Heidi Ann Heins of Palo Alto, and five grandchildren.