Former Missouri Rep. Young Dies of Liver Cancer

Posted October 19, 2007 at 4:36pm

Former Rep. Robert Young III (D-Mo.) died Wednesday of liver cancer at a nursing home in St. Ann, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. [IMGCAP(1)]

Young, who was 83, represented Missouri’s 2nd district for 10 years in the 1970s and ’80s and spent 20 years in the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate before seeking federal office.

Fellow Missouri Democratic Reps. Ike Skelton and William Lacy Clay remembered Young, a World War II hero, as a politician who was sympathetic to labor and who, Clay said, “believed in bringing federal dollars back to his district.”

Skelton, through a spokeswoman, said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of the death of Young, who entered Congress in 1977, the same year he did. He recalled that Young took part in the landing at Utah Beach on D-Day during World War II. Young, who fought in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge, earned a Bronze Star for his military service.

“Unions played an important part” of Young’s politics, Skelton said. “He worked hard for blue-collar workers in St. Louis — he actually co-founded the Congressional Blue-Collar Caucus” in 1981.

“Young was immensely proud to be in the 2nd district,” Skelton said. “He fought hard for the 2nd district.”

Clay said Young was a freshman House Member when he first met him; Clay was working as a doorkeeper in Congress while his father represented Missouri’s 1st district, which adjoins Young’s.

“We became friends” from that meeting, Clay said. “I knew him for 30 years. I knew his family — he will be missed in his community.”

Young joined a pipefitters union in St. Louis upon returning home from the war. He married Irene Slawson in 1947, who preceded him in death in 1997. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1956 and the state Senate in 1962. In all, Young spent 35 years in elected office.

As a Congressman, Young procured federal money for numerous projects in his district, including the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse and Interstate 170. A downtown St. Louis federal building, renovated with Congressional funds that Young helped secure, was renamed for Young in 1990.

A funeral mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Maryland Heights, Mo.