Alabama Appropriator Bevill Dies at 84

Posted April 1, 2005 at 4:03pm

Alabama’s longest-serving Congressman, Tom Bevill (D), died March 29, a day after he turned 84. Bevill represented Alabama’s 4th district for 30 years.

Bevill was sometimes referred to as the “King of Pork,” as he used his clout as chairman of the influential House Appropriations energy development and water subcommittee to secure massive amounts of public funding for both his district and the state in general.

A child of the Great Depression, Bevill zealously protected the Tennessee Valley Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as other government programs that brought jobs and money into his district.

It is difficult to travel around Alabama without finding a project, a building or a park with his name on it. Such projects include the Tom Bevill Lock and Dam in Pickens County and the Tom Bevill Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technology in Gadsden.

Bevill’s successor in the 4th district, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R), praised Bevill in an interview last week.

“He had a tremendous amount of impact on the 4th district — he worked very hard trying to stimulate economic development across the district.” Bevill, he said, “brought back a lot of federal dollars.”

Aderholt added that their relationship was effective despite their differing party affiliations.

“Although I didn’t have a chance to work under Congressman Bevill, we had a good relationship, even though I wasn’t a Democrat,” Aderholt said. “People have nothing but good things to say about Tom Bevill.”

After graduating from the University of Alabama in 1943, Bevill joined the Army. He served as a captain during the invasion of Normandy.

Once he returned home, Bevill practiced law and served in the Alabama House of Representatives. Although he lost his first primary for the U.S. House, he won in the next cycle and served for 30 uninterrupted years.

Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.) remembered Bevill fondly in a statement after the former Congressman’s death.

“Congressman Bevill was the Dean of the Alabama delegation when I was first elected to Congress, and he taught me a great deal about representing North Alabama,” Cramer said.

Republican Rep. Terry Everett (Ala.) added that, “while I did not always see eye-to-eye with [him] on national policy questions, I was pleased to work with them on matters of common interest.”