Former Rep. Jerome Waldie Dies

Posted April 6, 2009 at 1:42pm

Former Rep. Jerome Waldie (D-Calif.) died Friday after struggling with illness for about three months. He was 84.

Waldie is probably best remembered for introducing the articles of impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Waldie grew up in California, graduated from the University of California and its law school, and served in the Army during World War II. He was first elected to the state Assembly in 1959.

In the Assembly, Waldie was known for his work with unions and on behalf of the mentally handicapped. He rose to Majority Leader in 1961.

In 1966, he won a special election to Congress. In four and a half terms on Capitol Hill, Waldie worked on environmental issues and made his mark by introducing the articles of impeachment against Nixon. In 1974, he lost a gubernatorial primary bid to Jerry Brown and left elected office permanently.

Since that time he served the public in prominent roles in Washington, D.C., and California. Former President Jimmy Carter appointed him the first chairman of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission and then executive director on the White House Conference on Aging. After Carter’s loss, Waldie came back to California, where Brown appointed him to the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board. In 1997, he was appointed to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Known for his sense of humor, Waldie co-authored “Fair Play for Frogs: The Waldie-Frobish Papers— in the mid-1970s. The book was a series of letters between a writer who defends frogs and Waldie, who had sponsored legislation allowing them to be killed with slingshots.

The former Congressman also penned a column for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. In his final column, “Old Age Not for Sissies,— which was published the day after his death, he wrote about his health problems.

“One of my favorite doctors (I have seen 14 physicians during this ordeal) discussing his diagnosis sought to comfort me by revealing that in his experience every patient he had seen who had giant cell arteriosis was an extremely nice person,’— he wrote. “I was quite moved by his sincerity and his compliment. Though at a later conference, being the smart ass that I am, I asked him if I became a S.O.B. would it be easier to treat my disease?—

Waldie’s wife, Joanne, and his three children survive him. Though no memorial service has been planned at this time, the survivors have asked that mourners honor his memory by donating to the League to Save Lake Tahoe, United Farm Workers or a state Democratic Party.