Samuel S. Stratton, 73, a New York Democrat who spent 30 years in the House of Representatives where he became an informed if irascible power on the Armed Services Committee, died Sept. 13 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital after a heart attack.
He was stricken at the Manor Care nursing home in Potomac, where he had been living since an October 1989 stroke. He also had asthma.
Mr. Stratton won election to the House from an Upstate New York district that included Schenectady in 1958. He stayed in the House until retiring for health reasons in January 1989.
Over the years, he gained a reputation as a mainstream Democrat on domestic issues. But he increasingly found himself out of step with his party on defense issues. He never gave up support for the war in Vietnam and became known as a vocal friend of the Pentagon.
When he left office, he was the fourth-ranking Democrat on Armed Services and chairman of its powerful procurement and military nuclear systems subcommittee.
He favored most proposed increases in defense spending and new weapons systems. He was a leading Democratic voice in the House for the MX missile and B-1 bomber programs. He also favored development of a neutron bomb.
He led fights to overturn the "Clark Amendment" that prohibited covert aid to rebel forces opposing Angola's communist government. He was a consistent supporter of aid to the Nicaraguan contras.
He was a leading congressional opponent of the nuclear freeze movement and maintained that he looked with great skepticism on arms control agreements with the Soviet Union. He was a strident critic of civilian budget analysts who sought to rein in defense budgets and to reform the procurement system.
His thoughts on the military budget may have led to his becoming the only northern member of the Conservative Democratic Forum, a group of Democrats that became to be popularly known as the "Boll Weevils."
Mr. Stratton's role in the House became that of the outraged advocate rather than the painstaking legislative tactician. It was a role some thought more suited to a minority party member than a senior member of a powerful standing House committee.
One measure of Mr. Stratton's isolation within his own party came in 1985 when House Democrats deposed an aging and increasingly ineffective Rep. Melvin Price (D-Ill.) as Armed Services chairman. They passed up Mr. Stratton -- among others -- to pick the less senior Les Aspin (D-Wis.) as the new committee chairman.
Probably one of Mr. Stratton's most lasting accomplishments was his successful fight, against nearly the whole of Congress, to prevent the demolition of the Capitol's West Front. The struggle, which became something of a personal crusade, resulted in the Front's being beautifully refurbished and restored.
Samuel Studdiford Stratton, who lived in Bethesda, was a native of Yonkers, N.Y., and a 1937 graduate of the University of Rochester. He received master's degrees from Haverford College and Harvard University. He came to Washington in 1940, spending the next two years as secretary to Rep. Thomas H. Eliot (D-Mass.).
During World War II, he was a combat intelligence officer in the Southwest Pacific theater on the staff of Douglas MacArthur. Mr. Stratton earned two Bronze Star medals. He was recalled to duty during the Korean War.
He was elected to the Schenectady City Council in 1949, where he served until 1956 and fought the Democratic machine and the Republican Party as well as gambling and corruption. He was mayor of Schenectady from 1956 until entering Congress in January 1959.
Over the years, his district was redrawn after each census. Mr. Stratton twice changed districts before Republicans gave up trying to defeat him and gave him a safely Democratic district. He became dean of the New York delegation in January 1979.
In 1964, he unsuccessfully opposed Robert F. Kennedy for the Democratic nonmination for U.S. senator. Kennedy went on to defeat Sen. Kenneth Keating (R).
Mr. Stratton's survivors include his wife, Joan H., of Bethesda; two sons, Kevin, of Vienna, and Brian, of Clifton Park, N.Y.; three daughters, Lisa Gonzalez of San Mateo, Calif., Debra Mott of Springfield and Kim Petrie of Aspen, Colo.; and eight grandchildren.
JUANITA E. THORNTON
School Official & Volunteer
Juanita E. Thornton, 78, a retired official with the D.C. schools who was a community volunteer and member of several D.C. government advisory commissions, died of respiratory failure Sept. 14 at Howard University Hospital. She lived in Washington.
Mrs. Thornton was chairman of the D.C. Nursing Home Advisory Commission. Until July, she had been a member of the D.C. Medical Board. She had been chairman of the Mayor's Commission on Aging in the late 1970s and served on the D.C. Housing Production Commission from 1984 to 1988.
She began with the D.C. schools about 1960 as an elementary teacher. Her later jobs included work as a counselor at Emery Elementary School and as principal at the Stevens, Grant & Sumner elementary school group. She was an instructional supervisor when she retired in 1972.
In 1983, Washingtonian magazine named her "Washingtonian of the Year."
A longtime resident of the Shepherd Park neighborhood in Northwest Washington, Mrs. Thornton was a key advocate in the mid-1980s for the establishment of a public library there. The Shepherd Park Public Library opened in July.
Mrs. Thornton was a native of Columbia, S.C., where she graduated from Allen University. She had a master's degree in education from the University of Michigan. She came to Washington in 1938. During World War II, she worked as a clerk-typist at the War Department.
She was member of St. Paul's AME Church in Washington, the National Urban League, the League of Women Voters and the American Association of Retired Persons.
Survivors include her husband, Leonard Thornton of Washington; a son, Edward Thornton of Washington; a sister, Thomasina King of Columbia, S.C.; and a grandchild.
WILLIAM M. WHITE
William Marshall White, 74, a retired accounting official at the Federal Communications Commission who was active in church affairs, died Sept. 12 at his home in Temple Hills. He had Parkinson's disease.
Mr. White was born in Holton, Kan. He moved to Washington in 1940. He received a degree in accounting from Southeastern University, and he served in the Army in World War II.
In 1940, he went to work for the FCC. In 1975, when he retired from the agency, he was chief of the accounting and field operations branch of the common carrier bureau. He then became a part-time real estate broker.
Mr. White was a member of Bethany Christian Church in Fort Washington, and he was a past chairman of the board of trustees of the Christian Churches-Capital Area organization. He also was a member of the Association of Government Accountants.
Survivors include his wife, Wilma D. White, whom he married in 1941, of Temple Hills; three daughters, Mary Louise White and Deborah K. Hall, both of Temple Hills, and Linda L. Jett of Peyton, Colo.; three brothers, Zane White of Holton, Kan., Fred White Jr. of Circleville, Kan., and Dale White of Westhampton Beach, N.Y.; and five grandchildren.
JOAN M. FYOCK
Joan Marie Fyock, 58, the operator of a dog grooming business and a past president of the Maydale Women's Club in Silver Spring, died of cancer Sept. 14 at Holy Cross Hospital.
Mrs. Fyock, a resident of Silver Spring, was born in Washington. She graduated from McKinley Technical High School.
From 1945 until the late 1950s, she was a secretary at the old Atomic Energy Commission. For the past 20 years she had run a dog grooming business from her home.
Survivors include her husband, John C. Fyock, whom she married in 1953, and two daughters, Lisa Sippel and Cheryl Caponiti, all of Silver Spring; her parents, Charles B. and Selma Good, also of Silver Spring; a sister, Shirley Szymanski of Springfield; a brother, Charles B. Good Jr. of Potomac; and two grandchildren.