Millicent H. Fenwick, 82, a New Jersey Republican and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives who became known during her years in Congress as a sharp and biting wit and a champion of women's rights and ethics in government, died of cardiac arrest Sept. 16 at her home in Bernardsville, N.J.
Mrs. Fenwick was elected to the House in 1974, at the age of 64, and she served four terms on Capitol Hill, gaining a reputation as a fighter for civil rights and curbs on campaign spending. The Almanac of American Politics described her as "a fervent Republican with a kind of noblesse oblige liberalism." She left Congress after losing a bid for a Senate seat to Democrat Frank Lautenberg in 1982.
She came from an aristocratic and moneyed background and she spoke with an accent commonly associated with the most fashionable and exclusive girls' private schools. She also smoked a pipe. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau took her as the model for the character Lacey Davenport in the comic strip "Doonesbury."
After her unsuccessful Senate race, Mrs. Fenwick was appointed ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, a post she held until retiring in 1987.
Mrs. Fenwick was born in New York City. Her mother, the former Mary Stevens, died on the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine in 1915 before the U.S. entry into World War I. She attended Foxcroft School in Middleburg, then in 1926 accompanied her father, Ogden Haggerty Hammond, to Spain, where he was U.S. ambassador.
They returned in 1929, and Mrs. Fenwick studied philosophy with Bertrand Russell at the New School for Social Research in New York and attended classes at Columbia University. Graceful and stately at 5 feet 10 inches, she modeled for Harper's Bazaar. In 1934, she married Hugh Fenwick. The marriage ended in divorce after four years.
After her divorce, Mrs. Fenwick began working as a writer and editor for Vogue magazine. She was author of Vogue's Book of Etiquette, which was published by Simon and Schuster in 1948 and sold 1 million copies.
She left Vogue in 1952 and began doing volunteer work in her northern New Jersey community. She was active in causes such as prison reform and legal aid, and she helped Republican candidates campaign for elective office. In 1969, she was elected to the New Jersey Assembly.
As a state official, Mrs. Fenwick worked on measures aimed at helping low-income consumers get more value for their money, and she argued in favor of an Equal Rights Amendment to the state Constitution.
Once, Mrs. Fenwick later recalled, an opponent of the ERA objected to the measure, declaring, "I've always thought of women as kissable, cuddly and smelling good." Replied Mrs. Fenwick, "That's the way I feel about men too. I only hope for your sake that you haven't been disappointed as often as I have."
In Washington, Mrs. Fenwick was a junior member of a minority party, but she had an effect on Capitol Hill nevertheless. She challenged Wayne Hays (D-Ohio), then the feared chairman of the House Administration Committee, by calling for a debate when he tried to increase congressional expense funds.
On the House Ethics Committee, she was a major force in calling for an investigation of the Tongsun Park scandal. She was eloquent in her opposition to political action committee contributions to campaign spending, calling such contributions merely a dressed-up way of buying and selling votes.
She estimated her net worth on arriving in Washington at $5 million, but she lived an almost Spartan existence here. Typically, she worked from 6:30 or 7 a.m. until 9 o'clock at night, then walked home and fixed herself a dinner of spaghetti and a glass of wine. At home in New Jersey, she answered her constituents' mail with handwritten notes.
Survivors include a son, Hugh Fenwick Jr., and 11 grandchildren. A daughter, Mary Stevens Rockford, died in 1989.
OTIS J. WILLIAMS
Otis J. Williams, 68, who founded the C&W Flower Mart in Washington in 1958 and received a number of awards from florist trade organizations over the years, died of cancer Sept. 12 at Hadley Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Williams, a resident of Washington, was born in Enfield, N.C. He moved to Norfolk in 1940 and to Washington in 1948. He worked for the Blackistone flower shop in Washington before establishing his own business. He remained active in it until his death.
Mr. Williams received awards for his work from Florists Transworld Delivery, the American Floral Service, Florafax International and Carik Service Inc. He also received a community service award from the Meridian Hill Baptist Church in Washington.
Mr. Williams attended East Friendship Baptist Church in Washington.
His marriages to Cora Williams and Lue B. Williams ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Dorothy M. Williams, and their two children, Renae B. and David J. Williams, all of Washington; three children by his first marriage, James J. Williams Jr. of Washington, Jean E. Flood of Norfolk and Susie Brewer of Riverdale; a daughter by his second marriage, Linda L. Gatewood of Norfolk; four stepchildren, Rita Powell of Temple Hills, Joyce Bleeker of Mount Pleasant, Mich., and Lonnie Williams and Elmer Stanley, both of Norfolk; 26 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.
WARD H. OEHMANN
Ward H. Oehmann, 81, a lawyer who practiced in the Washington area for more than 50 years, died of cancer Sept. 14 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. A native of Washington, he lived in Chevy Chase.
Mr. Oehmann practiced estate and tax law in Washington and Bethesda.
He was a graduate of McKinley Technical High School and the University of Michigan and its law school. He served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
Mr. Oehmann was president of the board of Hannemann Hospital and the University of Michigan Alumni Association of Washington and a director of the Sertoma Club, St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home, and Columbia Country Club. He was a member of the American Legion, American Judicature Society, Delta Tau Delta social fraternity and Christ the King Catholic Church in Silver Spring. He received the honor trophy of the University of Michigan Alumni Association.
His marriage to the former Ellen Rhodes ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Dorothy Healy Oehmann of Chevy Chase; a son, Richard Ward Oehmann of Jacksonville, Fla.; a brother, Paul B. Oehmann of Chevy Chase; and seven grandchildren.