Sunday's obituary about Christine Cyr Charlton incorrectly reported the names of her parents, Norman and Louise Cyr. (Published 7/ 7/92)
Charles F. Brannan, 88, who served as President Truman's secretary of agriculture from May 1948 until January 1953, died July 2 at a Denver hospital where he was undergoing tests for a heart ailment.
Mr. Brannan, a lawyer by training and an Agriculture Department official by profession, took office as an authority in the minutia of agriculture policy, land reclamation, flood control and timber and grazing lands management.
But he was no simple bureaucrat. A champion of the family farm and an early and enthusiastic New Dealer with a fiery temper, he became an aggressive apostle of the Roosevelt-Truman farm program. After the administration farm program was attacked by Republicans in the 1948 election, Mr. Brannan took to the stump. He eventually made about 80 speeches in 30 farm states.
He was credited by many observers with being a decisive force in getting Truman the farm vote and making his upset election a reality. Some of the biggest Truman upsets were in farm states, including victories over Republican Thomas E. Dewey in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa -- states Dewey had carried against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.
Mr. Brannan quietly had become a force on Democratic Party councils, serving on the committee of five men named by Truman to recommend a vice presidential candidate to the 1948 National Democratic Convention. After the 1948 campaign, he became regarded as a major administration player and close presidential adviser.
Mr. Brannan may be best remembered as the author of the immensely controversial Brannan Plan of 1949, the first great post-World War II plan to try to attain good and steady prices for farmers, and fair and fairly constant prices for consumers.
In a break with previous farm policies, he sought to enact a legislative program that would maintain farm income at its record-high wartime levels, while letting supply and demand determine the cost of farm commodities to consumers.
The difference in prices would, of course, be borne by the government. He defended the program's cost by pointing out that it would be a major step in stablizing the entire national economy, and would help prevent another depression, an economic event that seemed to hit the farmer first and perhaps hardest. He also sought to limit total payments to farmers to a maximum of $26,000, thus promoting the family farm over corporate farming.
The Brannan plan was supported by labor unions, the National Farmers Union and liberals in general, and opposed by the National Grange, the Farm Bureau and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After a long and complicated battle, the plan was defeated. However, parts of the plan eventually became law as late as 1973.
Mr. Brannan, who lived in Denver, was a 1929 graduate of the University of Denver law school. He then practiced law in Denver, specializing in mining and irrigation cases, until joining the Agriculture Department in 1935 as an assistant regional attorney in the Resettlement Administration. In 1937, he came to Washington as regional attorney in the office of the soliciter. From 1941 to 1944, he worked for Agriculture's Farm Assistance Administration.
In June 1944, he was named assistant secretary of agriculture. During the next four years, he was a leader in government land reclamation projects and gained a reputation as an authority on long-range farm planning. During that time, he also served as vice chairman of the Commodity Credit Corporation and was agriculture adviser to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations at San Francisco.
He succeeded Clinton Anderson as agriculture secretary on May 28, 1948. By July, it was obvious that the country was headed toward a record-high corn harvest and its second-largest wheat harvest. Though this ended worries about grain shortages that had persisted since World War II, it overloaded the country's grain storage system.
Corn prices fell through the floor, from $1.78 a bushel in September to $1 a bushel by Election Day. Republicans sought to capitalize on falling farm prices by saying that Truman policies might be leading to a new farm depression and that Democrats were seeking to appease farmers by artificially driving up prices through needless government grain purchases.
Mr. Brannan went on the attack. He said it was the "do-nothing" Republican-controlled 80th Congress that had prevented construction of more grain storage facilities and thus "sabotaged" the price support system. He also pointed out grain purchases were for overseas hunger relief programs.
When he stepped down as agriculture secretary, after the election of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Washington Post ran an editorial headlined "Brannan: Public Servant." In it, The Post hailed Mr. Brannan's "competant and honest leadership" of his department and pointed out that while it had opposed parts of the Brannan Plan, the plan was "at least a serious and original attempt to cope with the surplus problem by promoting consumption."
After leaving office, Mr. Brannan returned to his native Denver, where he practiced law until his death. He also served as general counsel of the National Farmers Union until about 1990.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Eda V. Seltzer of Denver.
CHRISTINE CYR CHARLTON.
Christine Cyr Charlton, 44, who had been president of her own Alexandria bookkeeping business, Chris Charlton Associates Inc., for the last 15 years, died of cancer July 2 at Alexandria Hospital. She lived in Alexandria.
She was a member of St. Louis Catholic Church in Alexandria.
Mrs. Charlton, who was born in Portsmouth, Va., came here in 1960. She was a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield and a music graduate of Florida State University.
Survivors include her husband, Ralph, and a daughter, Kimberly Charlton, both of Alexandria; her parents, Norman and Louise Charlton, and a grandmother, Elizabeth Wood, all of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a brother, Kenneth Cyr of Burke; and two sisters, Simone Cyr of Alexandria and Suzanne Poling of Springfield.
GERD J. EICHEL.
Gerd J. Eichel, 48, president of Industrial Buildings Maintenance Service of Rockville since 1990, died of cancer July 1 at his home in Highland.
Mr. Eichel, a native of Germany, came to this country in 1960. He served in the Army from 1963 to 1967, spending part of his tour in Germany.
He spent his career in property management. He worked for H.G. Smithy here before moving to New Jersey, where he worked in property management from 1972 until returning here in 1980. He then worked for Grady Management for four years, then joined B.F. Saul, where he worked from 1984 to 1980 and became assistant vice president for apartment management.
Mr. Eichel had served on the board of the Property Management Association. He was a member of Faith United Methodist Church in Rockville, the Burtonsville Lions Club and the Brothers of the Third Wheel.
Survivors include his wife of 24 years, Jane, a daughter, Christine, and a son, Jon Gerd Eichel, all of Highland; his mother, Gertrude Giles of Edinburgh, Va.; a brother, Meinhard, of Washington state; and a half-brother, Klaus Schoefer of Mobile, Ala.
MARY C. ARENDS.
Former AU Official
Mary Crum Arends, 39, a former development director of American University's law school, died of cancer July 2 at a hospital in Hartford, Conn. She lived in West Hartford, Conn.
Mrs. Arends, who lived in Washington from 1974 to 1991, was born in South Carolina and reared in Massachusetts. A graduate of Syracuse University, she received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Oregon.
After coming here, she worked for the National Council for Social Studies before joining AU law school's development office in 1983. She left in 1991 to join the development office at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
Survivors include her husband, Richard Ira Arends, and a son, William Finch Arends, both of West Hartford; her parents, the Rev. Thomas L. and Sarah Sprenger Crum of Orleans, Mass.; and two sisters, Elizabeth Crum-Fountoulakis of Cranston, R.I., and Martha Jane Crum of Brooklyn, N.Y.