The obituary yesterday of John H. Tobler should have made clear that he had headed Agency for International Development missions in Laos and Syria and had been deputy head of a U.S. foreign aid mission in Vietnam. (Published 4/1/94)
William H. Natcher, 84, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and an influential and powerful figure on matters of federal spending, died March 29 at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. He had heart and lung ailments.
Mr. Natcher, a Kentucky Democrat, served more than four decades in Congress, and in 1992 he was elected by fellow Democrats to be chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which controls most discretionary spending.
From 1979 until his death, he also was chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, which has legislative jurisdiction over the funding of hundreds of billions dollars in social service, health and educational programs.
From 1961 until 1979, Mr. Natcher was chairman of the Appropriations D.C. subcommittee, and in that capacity he exercised vast powers over spending by the city government of the nation's capital. He clashed repeatedly with D.C. officials, especially over his insistence that various highway projects be completed before the release of funds for Metrorail construction.
These exchanges grew particularly heated during the final years of Mr. Natcher's leadership of the D.C. subcommittee, when officials of a newly reorganized city government contended that the congressman was refusing to recognize the District's right to manage its own affairs.
On Capitol Hill, Mr. Natcher was known as a figure of consummate courtesy and integrity who did not miss a roll call or a vote from his first day in office until March 3, 1994. His record of 18,401 consecutive votes earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The day before his streak ended, Mr. Natcher was wheeled onto the House floor on a hospital gurney. He cast the last four votes of the streak while connected to an oxygen tank and intravenous tubing. On the previous day, the House suspended all legislative action at Mr. Natcher's request to permit the streak to continue.
On the day Mr. Natcher missed his first vote, he was visited in his hospital room by President Clinton, who presented him with the Presidential Citizen's Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian award. The citation said, "Few legislators in our nation's history have honored their responsibilities with greater fealty or shunned the temptations of power with greater certainty than William Houston Natcher."
In a statement issued by the White House press office yesterday, the president said, "In an era of sound bites and high-tech media campaigns, Bill Natcher was a rarity.
"Some may think that Bill Natcher's death marks the end of an era in politics. I hope not. I hope that Congressman Natcher's devotion to public service serves as an inspiration to the young men and women of America for as long as his voting record stands."
As a politician, Mr. Natcher accepted no political contributions, took no honoria for speeches and served as his own press secretary, administrative assistant and legislative assistant. His office staff consisted of "five ladies," as he described them, who answered the telephones, greeted visitors and took dictation.
Erect and immaculate in a starched white shirt and dark suit, it was Mr. Natcher's custom to arrive at work at 7 a.m., open his own mail and remain on the job until dusk. He kept a daily journal of his congressional activities, which had grown to more than 50 leather-bound volumes after four decades in office.
As a legislator, Mr. Natcher opposed efforts to add pork projects to appropriations bills, and he abhorred governmental waste and disorder. At the same time, he always made sure his own congressional district got its fair share of federal dollars. Flood control projects and educational programs for the disadvantaged were among those measures.
He also was proud of the growth in funding for the National Institutes of Health under his legislative stewardship, from $73 million when he first took office in 1953 to more than $10 billion today. On his 83rd birthday in 1992, NIH broke ground on a new office building complex named after him.
"I have always believed that if you take care of the health of your people and educate your children, you continue living in the strongest country in the world," he often said.
Mr. Natcher was born in Bowling Green, Ky., and maintained his official residence there all his life. He graduated from Western Kentucky State College and received a law degree from Ohio State University. While in law school, he memorized Robert's Rules of Order, and he remained a stickler for proper parliamentary procedure throughout his professional career.
After law school, he had a private law practice in Bowling Green. He was county attorney for Warren County, then during World War II served three years in the Navy. After the war, he was county attorney again and then a state prosecutor. He also was president of the Kentucky Young Democrats.
In a 1953 special election, he won a seat in the House of Representatives from Kentucky's 2nd Congressional District after the death of the incumbent. Party leaders united behind Mr. Natcher, and he ran unopposed.
Over the years, Mr. Natcher kept in touch with his constituents the old-fashioned way: He traveled around and talked to them. Rarely did he spend more than $7,000 in an election campaign, and he always used his own money.
During his years as chairman of the Appropriations D.C. subcommittee, Mr. Natcher headed a panel with authority over each line item in the D.C. budget.
In the chambers of the D.C. Council and on the editorial pages of Washington's newspapers, he often was attacked for cuts in the city's budget, ranging from slashes in the annual federal payment to reductions in such measures as staffing for the advisory neighborhood commissions and funding to permit low-income residents to make down payments on homes. Such decisions were the responsibility of local officials, Mr. Natcher's critics contended.
The congressman argued that he was only trying to eliminate inefficiency and duplication in the city government.
In 1937, Mr. Natcher married Virginia Reardon. She died in 1991.
Survivors include two daughters, Celeste Jirles of Cambridge, Ohio, and Louise Murphy of Los Angeles; and seven grandchildren.
THOMAS BROOKE MERRITT
T. Brooke Merritt, 46, a retired Navy commander who was a project manager in the Washington area with defense contractors, died of abdominal cancer March 23 at Veterans Hospital in Washington. He lived in Alexandria.
Cmdr. Merritt was commissioned in the Navy in 1970 and spent the next eight years on active duty. He served tours in Vietnamese waters during the Vietnam War and also was director of the gunners mate school at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois.
After 1978, he remained in the reserves until recalled to active duty in 1990 for Operation Desert Shield. He served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations until retiring for health reasons on Jan. 1, 1993.
His decorations included the Navy Achievement and Commendation medals.
Cmdr. Merritt was born in Oakland. He had lived in the Washington area off and on since 1960. He was a graduate of Yorktown High School in Arlington and was an economics graduate of Tufts University.
From 1978 to 1990, he worked for Advanced Technology Inc., American Systems Corp., Tracor Applied Sciences and other contracting firms.
Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Sui-Fun Chung Merritt, and three children, William Brent Merritt, Brenna Louise Merritt and John Harlow Merritt, all of Alexandria; his parents, Norma C. Merritt and retired Navy Cmdr. H. William Merritt, both of Fort Washington; three brothers, Mark Merritt of Richmond, Scott Merritt of Beuerberg, Germany, and Todd Merritt of Arlington; and a sister, Catherine Hauer of Andover, Mass.
MARIAN POWELL ANDERSON
Widow of AU President
Marian Powell Anderson, 89, the widow of former American University president Hurst R. Anderson, died of cancer March 25 at a retirement facility in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mrs. Anderson lived in Washington from 1952 to 1970. She sold real estate for Burr Johnson during the 1960s. She also renovated houses in Washington. She was a member of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church and the PEO Sisterhood.
She was born in Norwalk, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. After leaving Washington, she lived in Ohio and later St. Petersburg.
Her husband died in 1989. Survivors include two children, Kathleen R. Anderson of Takoma Park and Powell R. Anderson of Pittsford, N.Y.; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
CHRIS J. CHRIST
Chris J. Christ, 76, a retired carryout owner who had been a waiter and maitre d' at the Rive Gauche restaurant in Georgetown in the 1950s, died March 27 at Fairfax Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Falls Church.
Mr. Christ was born to a Greek farming family on the island of Imbros, in what is now Turkey. After serving in the Turkish Army, he came to the United States in 1946 to work at the Turkish Embassy. Two years later, he left the embassy and became a waiter at the Place Vendome here.
In 1954, he leased a Tastee Freeze outlet in Ocean City and later expanded the menu and changed its name to Anthony's Carryout. He retired in 1972.
Survivors include his wife of 46 years, the former Helen Anthony, of Falls Church; two sons, Jon, of Ocean City, and Anthony, of Falls Church; a daughter, Ianthe Yeatras of Fairfax; two sisters, Katina Pananis and Sultana Hatzi, both of New York; and four grandchildren.
MARY BECKETT HARRIS
Mary Beckett Harris, 81, a former clerical worker, died of a heart attack March 25 at her home in Arlington.
Mrs. Harris was a native of Lanham and a graduate of Hyattsville High School. She attended Virginia State Teachers College, now Mary Washington College, in Fredericksburg.
She was a clerical worker for the Garfinckel department store in the 1930s and for the D.C. Tax Office in the 1940s.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a volunteer with the American Red Cross during World War II.
Her first husband, Edward E. Bailey Jr., died in 1947, and her second husband, Virgil E. Harris, died in 1981. Survivors include two sisters, Laura B. Walker of Berkeley, Calif., and Lucy Galpin of Arlington.
ROBERT L. LAMBERT Jr.
Robert L. Lambert Jr., 63, a retired branch chief for operations and support at the Census Bureau, died of a heart attack and renal failure March 26 at his home in Landover. He had diabetes.
He was a computer operator early in his career and retired in 1985 after 32 years with the bureau. He was a 1985 recipient of the bureau's Bronze Medal.
Mr. Lambert was born in Atlantic City and had lived in the Washington area off and on since childhood. He was a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War and remained in the reserves until 1958.
He was a director of the Prince George's County Mental Health Association and the county Commission for Persons with Disabilities. He was a member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Lanham.
Survivors include his wife, Clara Pauline Lambert of Landover; eight children, Barbara Gains of Landover, Melisande Watson and Paul Lambert, both of Washington, Robert L. Lambert III of Baltimore, Donald Lambert of Seat Pleasant, Darryl Lambert of Fort Washington, and Janice Lambert and Janet Robinson, both of Alexandria; his mother, Lydia W. Lambert, and a sister, Lydia Johns, both of Washington; and 18 grandchildren.
EDWIN AUGUSTUS ROGERS JR.
Edwin Augustus Rogers Jr., 75, a retired reporter in the Washington bureau of United Press International who covered Capitol Hill and the Justice Department, died March 26 at Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C. He had heart ailments and a stroke.
Mr. Rogers, a former resident of Alexandria, was born in Ashburn, Ga. He graduated from the University of Georgia and the Woodrow Wilson School of Law in Atlanta. During World War II, he served in the Navy.
He began his career in journalism with the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner after the war. In 1947, he joined UPI in Atlanta. Beginning in 1955, he covered 11 annual sessions of the Georgia legislature.
In 1966 Mr. Rogers transferred to Washington. In 1982, he retired from UPI and joined the Washington Times as a general assignment reporter. He retired from the Times in 1986.
His hobbies included painting and listening to classical music. He lived in Alexandria until 1992 and then in Silver Spring until moving to Gastonia last year.
Survivors include his companion and former wife, Mary Ward Rogers, with whom he lived in Gastonia, and two sisters, Josephine Rogers and Elmir Ricketson, both of Warrenton, Ga.
BETTIE MYERS HOLLIDAY
Bettie Myers Holliday, 55, a retired teacher in the D.C. school system and a member of Takoma Park Baptist Church in Washington, died of heart ailments March 28 at Washington Hospital Center. She also had diabetes and kidney ailments.
A resident of Washington, Mrs. Holliday was born in Massies Mill, Va. She grew up there and in Washington. She graduated from Cardozo High School and D.C. Teachers College.
She began her career in the D.C. school system in the late 1960s. She taught at Whittier Elementary School and later at Rudolph Elementary School, where she retired for reasons of health in 1989.
Her marriage to Levi Holliday ended in divorce.
Survivors include two children, Karen Holliday and Levi Lorenzo Holliday, both of Washington; three sisters, Mary M. Johnson and Lillie M. Frye, both of Washington, and Dorothy M. Pogue of Chevy Chase; two brothers, Eugene Myers of Queens, N.Y., and Jessie Myers of Piney River, Va.; and two grandchildren.
JOHN H. TOBLER
John H. Tobler, 78, a former official of the Agency for International Development who retired in 1974 as director of the office of special technical services, died of leukemia March 24 at his home in Alexandria.
Mr. Tobler was born in New York. During the 1930s, he was a United Press correspondent in Paris. He worked for the Office of War Information in New York during World War II. After the war, he was press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
Later, he worked as an information officer in Brussels and in this country for the Marshall Plan for the economic rehabilitation of postwar Europe. He also had served in foreign assistance programs in Vietnam and Laos, attended the National War College and worked for the National Security Council.
Survivors include his wife, Marie Tobler of Alexandria; two children, Charles E. Tobler of Littleton, Colo., and Sharon A. Tobler of Alexandria; and a grandchild.
JOHN EDWARD HEINZ
John Edward Heinz, 86, an engineer who retired in 1960 after 30 years with the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, died of a heart attack March 23 at Suburban Hospital.
A resident of the area since the mid-1930s, he lived in Rockville.
After retiring, Mr. Heinz was a consultant and Gun Factory liaison official for Vitro Corp. for 10 years.
He attended Johns Hopkins University in his native Baltimore..
He was a member of the administrative board at Woodside United Methodist Church in Silver Spring.
His first wife, Juanita Glover Heinz, died in 1960.
Survivors include his wife of 29 years, Estaleen Y. Heinz of Rockville; two daughters from his first marriage, Madeleine Moore and Carolyn Sheridan, both of Rockville; a stepdaughter, Carnetta L. Rohland of Silver Spring; a sister, Madaleine Albright of Gaithersburg; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
David Cobb, 84, a lawyer who conducted a general law practice in Washington from the late 1940s until he retired in 1986, died March 22 at Suburban Hospital. He had Parkinson's disease.
Mr. Cobb, a resident of Chevy Chase, was born in Boston. , He graduated from Harvard University and its law school.
He moved to the Washington area in 1935. Before World War II, he was a lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the wage and hour divison of the Labor Department and the Office of Price Administration.
During the war, Mr. Cobb served in the Navy. Later he worked in Washington for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency and for the Allied Control Commission in Germany.
In the late 1940s, he established a private law practice, first as a partner in the firm of Cobb & Weissbrodt and then as a sole practitioner. He retired in 1986.
Mr. Cobb was a yachtsman and a former member of the Annapolis Yacht Club.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Lucille R. Cobb of Chevy Chase; a son, David Michael Cobb of Silver Spring; a brother, Matthew Cobb of Barnstable, Mass.; and two grandchildren.