Newton I. Steers Jr., 76, a Montgomery County Republican and political activist who had served six years in the Maryland Senate and one term in the U.S. House of Representatives, died of cancer yesterday at his home in Bethesda.
Mr. Steers was a primary player on the state and regional political stage from the early 1960s into the 1980s.
He was Maryland's insurance commissioner for three years before his 1970 election to the state Senate.
He served there until 1976, when he was elected to Congress. He was defeated in a bid for reelection in 1978 and then lost again in a 1980 bid to reclaim his seat.
In 1982, he was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Maryland, but he lost in the general election.
An investor with a law degree who made a fortune in mutual funds during the 1950s, Mr. Steers had a reputation as a hard-working and independent-minded politician with a prickly unpredictability. He was known as a gadfly and a needler with a quick and nimble wit and a sharp and sometimes sarcastic tongue.
Ideologically, he was a Republican liberal who during his one term in the House of Representatives compiled the highest liberal voting record of any House Republican, according to a study by Americans for Democratic Action.
In his personal demeanor, he was charming, engaging and articulate, whether shaking hands on the campaign hustings or socializing at the Chevy Chase or Metropolitan clubs. In Annapolis, he was said to have appeared on occasion in the lounge of the Maryland Senate, tennis racket in hand, looking for a match.
Mr. Steers was born in Glen Ridge, N.J. He graduated from Yale University. He worked for Du Pont Co. subsidiaries in New Jersey and Delaware before World War II. During the war, he served in the Army Air Forces, which sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study meteorology. Later he served in England, France, Belgium and Germany.
After the war, he graduated from Yale Law School. He was assistant works manager of the General Aniline & Film Corp. in Binghamton, N.Y., before moving to Washington in 1951 to work for the Atomic Energy Commission.
Two years later, Mr. Steers and a group of friends formed the Atomic Development Mutual Fund, which was to specialize in "securities of companies participating in activities resulting from the natural sciences."
The fund was an immediate success, and Mr. Steers traveled the world visiting investors and brokerage firms to promote investment in atomic energy. By the time the fund was 19 months old, it had 30,000 shareholders and $44 million in investments.
In 1965, Mr. Steers, by then worth more than $2 million, sold his interest in the fund for $300,000.
In 1957, he married Nina Auchincloss Gore, the half-sister of writer Gore Vidal and stepsister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Mrs. Kennedy was matron of honor at the wedding and then-Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was one of the groomsmen.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Steers became active in the legislative reapportionment movement in Montgomery County. In 1962, he ran for Maryland's at-large seat in Congress. He lost to Democrat Carlton R. Sickles. In 1964, he became Maryland's Republican state chairman. He held that post for two years.
In 1966, Mr. Steers lost a race for Congress, but the next year he was named insurance commissioner by then-Gov. Spiro T. Agnew.
In that job, Mr. Steers said, "My philosophy was, I turned down every rate increase I could legally . . . All in all, on the job, I got a great deal of publicity, and I enjoyed it."
In 1970, Mr. Steers served briefly as assistant secretary of the newly created State Department of Licensing and Regulation before his election to the Maryland Senate.
His first marriage ended in divorce in 1974.
Survivors include his wife, Inge Gabriele Wirsich Irwin Steers, whom he married in 1978, of Bethesda; three sons from his first marriage, Newton Ivan Steers III and Hugh Auchincloss Steers, both of New York, and Burr Gore Steers of Hollywood; and a stepson, Kristof Andreas Irwin of College Park.
EVA G. AARONSON
Eva G. Aaronson, 88, a medical social worker for the D.C. government who later was a volunteer for the D.C. chapter of the American Cancer Society, died of leukemia Feb. 11 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Mrs. Aaronson, who lived in Chevy Chase, was born in Baltimore. She moved to Washington in 1922. She graduated from Business High School and from George Washington University.
From 1930 to 1948, she was a social worker with the D.C. Department of Public Welfare. She was a medical social worker at Garfield Hospital from 1948 to 1955, and from 1955 to 1966 she worked for the D.C. Department of Public Health as a social worker operating mainly out of D.C. General Hospital.
She worked for the American Cancer Society at George Washington University Hospital from 1966 to 1968. She then became a volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
Mrs. Aaronson received the St. George Medal and the John Feeney Award for her volunteer work, and she served on the board of the D.C. chapter of the American Cancer Society.
She was a charter member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Her husband of 42 years, A. Palma Aaronson, died in 1971.
Survivors include a son, Larry Aaronson of Cambridge, Mass., and two sisters, Gertrude G. Levy of Washington and Dora G. Bresler of Chevy Chase.
HARLEY K. "HUCK" McVICKER
Harley K. "Huck" McVicker, 77, a retired tax collection official in the international operations section of the Internal Revenue Service, died of cancer Feb. 8 at his home in Williamsburg.
A former resident of McLean, Mr. McVicker was born in Hanna City, Ill. He moved to the Washington area in 1937 and joined what then was called the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
He attended Southeastern University at night and graduated with a bachelor's degree in commercial science.
From 1960 to 1965, Mr. McVicker worked for the IRS in Chicago. He then returned here. In 1970, he retired from the government and became a part-time real estate agent in Northern Virginia. He continued that work after moving to Williamsburg in 1983.
Mr. McVicker was an organizer of the Babe Ruth baseball league in Falls Church in the 1950s, and he was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Margaret McVicker of Williamsburg; five children, Ellen K. Sikes of Marietta, Ga., H. Keith McVicker Jr. of Short Hills, N.J., Ann K. Michnowicz of McLean, John D. McVicker of Alexandria and Mary M. Scroggs of Morton, Ill.; a brother, William W. McVicker of East Peoria, Ill.; and five grandchildren.
LUCILLE RILEY IVES
Silver Spring Resident
Lucille Riley Ives, 88, a resident of Silver Spring who had lived in the Washington area since 1950, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 9 at the Washington Adventist Hospital.
Mrs. Ives was born in Kansas. She lived in Denver before moving to the Washington area.
Her husband, Richard E. Ives, died in 1962.
Survivors include a daughter, Anne Ives Campbell of Laurel; a sister, Vera Schmaus of St. James, Mo.; a grandson and a great-grandchild.