Ex-Member Turned Chief of Staff Dies

Posted July 3, 2003 at 2:28pm

Former Rep. Floyd Fithian (D-Ind.), who returned to Capitol Hill as a chief of staff, died June 27 in Springfield, Ill. The 76-year-old had Parkinson’s disease.

The Vesta, Neb., native made his first run at political office in 1972 when he was defeated for a House seat. He was elected to Congress in 1974 as the first Democrat to represent the northwest Indiana district since a one-term lawmaker had won the seat in 1932 as a reaction to the Great Depression. In the House, he was on the Small Business, Government Operations, Foreign Affairs and Agriculture committees.

After serving in Congress through January 1983, Fithian made an unsuccessful attempt at the Senate seat held by incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). Fithian’s House seat had been redistricted after the state lost one of its seats in 1980.

In 1985, after remaining politically active as the finance director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he returned to Congress as the chief of staff for then-Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.). In 1992, he went into semi-retirement.

“It takes an individual whose feet are well on the ground to make the transition from Member to staff without any problems — and Floyd did it with grace, humor and loyalty,” Simon said in a 1992 speech on the House floor.

Prior to his service in politics, Fithian was in the Navy and Navy Reserves and was a history professor at Purdue University. He received a bachelor’s degree from Peru State College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska.

Survivors include his wife, Marjorie, of Springfield; a son, John, of Alexandria; two daughters, Cindy of Fairfax and Judy Heuss of Indianapolis; a brother; several sisters; and eight grandchildren.

— Laura Merritt

Former Rep. George Shipley Dies at 76

Former Illinois Rep. George E. Shipley (D) died June 28 of lung cancer. He was 76.

He served Illinois for 20 years, representing the 23rd district from 1958 to 1973 and the 22nd district from 1974 until his retirement in 1979.

Shipley was born April 21, 1927, in Richland County, Ill., and later married Gloria Watson on July 6, 1947, in Arkansas. He served in Guam with the Marine Corps during World War II and later returned to Richland County where he served as deputy sheriff from 1950 to 1954. He then served one term as sheriff in 1954 before being elected to the House from the 23rd district, which later became the 22nd district due to redistricting.

During his two decades in Congress, he served on the Housing and Urban Development Committee and was chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ann Shipley; two sons, George E. Shipley Jr. and Robb Edward Allen Shipley; three daughters, Lucinda Jane Lewis, Mimi Fehrenbacher and Shawn Marie Dwyer; and 17 grandchildren.

A memorial service was held June 26 in Shipley’s hometown of Olney, Ill. The Richland County Veterans Organization preformed military rites. Memorial donations are being accepted for the Richland County Relay For Life.

— Ashley Johnson