Former Members From New York, Pennsylvania Die

New York Rep. John Dow Dies at 97

Posted March 18, 2003 at 2:49pm

Former New York Rep. John Dow, 97, died March 11 in Suffern, N.Y.

The Democrat served three terms in the House, between 1965 and 1969 and again from 1971 to 1973.

Dow, born in New York City in 1905, began his 35-year career as a systems analyst for various corporations in 1929, two years after earning his bachelor’s from Harvard College. He received his master’s from Columbia University in 1937.

While serving as director of civil defense in Grand View, N.Y., Dow made his first bid for office, seeking a seat in the state Legislature in 1954. Two years later he made a second unsuccessful bid for the same office.

In 1957, still serving as the civil defense director, Dow took over the chairmanship of the Orangetown Democratic Committee, which he held until 1962. Then, in 1964, he served as chairman of the Grand View Zoning Board of Appeals.

Dow headed to Capitol Hill in 1965 after winning election in New York’s 22nd district, defeating then-Rep. Katharine St. George (R).

He served two terms before losing his his re-election bid in 1968 in a tight race against Republican Martin McKneally, a former national commander of the American Legion.

During the 91st Congress, Dow served as a staff assistant. He returned to the campaign trail in 1970, defeating McKneally.

Republican Ben Gilman won the seat from Dow in 1972, holding onto it until his retirement at the end of the 107th Congress.

Dow challenged Gilman unsuccessfully in 1974 and made another attempt in 1990, after winning the Democratic primary at age 85. He also made a bid for the Albany-based seat of then-Rep. Samuel Stratton (D) in 1982, running as a peace candidate in the Democratic primary.

Dow served for six years as director of a New York state employment program until 1982 and also founded Americans Against Nuclear War in 1980.

He is survived by three children, Thomas, Diantha Schull and Sophia Torres.

Pennsylvania Rep. Yatron Dies of Heart Attack

Pennsylvania Democrat Gus Yatron, a 24-year veteran of the House, died March 13 from an apparent heart attack.

Yatron, 75, served in Congress from 1969 until his retirement in 1993.

Born in 1927 in Reading, Pa., Yatron graduated from Kutztown State Teachers College in 1950, making his political debut in 1955 by winning election to the Reading School Board.

Yatron served two terms in the Pennsylvania House, winning bids in 1956 and 1958, before his election to the state Senate in 1960. He won re-election in the Senate in 1964 and 1966.

The Keystone State lawmaker, who also worked as an ice cream manufacturer in Reading, came to Capitol Hill in 1969, winning re-election 11 times.

He spent a decade as chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights and international organization, focusing on human rights abuses.

In 1993, a Philadelphia federal grand jury indicted Yatron’s former campaign treasurer, Elwood Broad, who was charged with embezzling more than $60,000 in campaign contributions between 1986 and 1990.

Broad made claims in 1991 that the lawmaker had required a $700 kickback from his salary each month, which peaked the FBI’s interest in Broad. The former aide later filed a lawsuit against Yatron in connection with a bankruptcy petition, but dropped the lawsuit in 1998.

Yatron fired Broad after discovering a $13,000 shortfall in campaign funds, but allowed him to repay the amount rather than pursue criminal charges.

Yatron is survived by his wife, Mildred; daughter, Theana Yatron Kastens; and son, George.

— Jennifer Yachnin