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James Lloyd, who represented the 35th district of California from 1975-1981, died Feb. 2 following a Jan. 22 car accident in Florida.
The Pensacola News Journal reported that while traveling to visit his grandson, who is training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the 89-year-old’s car went off the side of the road and fell about 30 feet.
A native of Montana, Lloyd attended the University of Oregon before joining the Navy in 1942. He returned to college and got his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1958, then received his master’s from the University of Southern California in 1966. He pursued a career in public relations until he entered the world of politics in 1968.
Prior to joining Congress, Lloyd served as an elected public official in West Covina, Calif., first as a city councilman and then as mayor.
He was elected to Congress in 1974, defeating incumbent Republican Vincent Veysey and joining the huge Watergate Class of Democratic freshmen.
“I remember him preaching to his staff in D.C.,” Lloyd’s son Brian told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “He said when a constituent comes in with a problem with a government agency, you assume the agency was wrong and the constituent was right. He felt it was his job to help citizens navigate the bureaucracy.”
Lloyd served until he was defeated by Republican David Dreier in 1980, in a race some Democrats blamed on President Jimmy Carter’s early concession while the polls were still open on the West Coast.
“Over the years, I was fortunate to work alongside Jim on a wide range of issues affecting California and our national security,” Dreier said in a statement. “He was tireless in his efforts to build a better state and a consummate patriot for our country.”
Joe Foley, a former aide to Rep. Bill Chappell (D-Fla.) and current owner of Foley Government & Public Affairs Inc., first met Lloyd in 1975 when Chappell and Lloyd were preparing to play in the annual Congressional Baseball Game.
“He was friends with all in the U.S. Congress. ... Many still on Capitol Hill will miss him,” Foley said in an email.
Lloyd’s wife Jackie passed away in June. He is survived by his son and two grandsons.