Former Rep. Emilio Daddario Dies at 91

Posted July 9, 2010 at 10:25am

Former Rep. Emilio “Mim” Daddario, a World War II and Korean War veteran who promoted science research in his time on the Hill, died earlier this week in Washington. The Connecticut Democrat, who had heart problems, was 91.

Born on Sept. 24, 1918, in Massachusetts, Daddario completed his undergraduate degree in 1939 at Wesleyan University, where he was a star on the football and baseball teams. He finished a law degree at the University of Connecticut in 1942.

Daddario came to Congress in the landscape-altering election of 1958 when the six Republicans in Connecticut’s delegation were replaced with six Democrats, the ramifications of which are still felt in the Nutmeg State. Daddario represented central Connecticut in the House for 12 years, and he used the time to build an expertise in scientific research. He became chair of the House Science subcommittee on scientific research and was influential on space policy. In 1970 he ran against then-Rep. Thomas Meskill (R) for governor; Meskill’s win ended Daddario’s political career.

During World War II, Daddario served in the Army’s Office of Strategic Services. In his book, “OSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency,” Richard Harris Smith noted Daddario’s role shortly after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s death. When fascist Marshal Rodolfo Graziani surrendered to Daddario, the OSS officer protected him against angry Socialists.

“Daddario and [officer Aldo] Icardi raced ahead and posted themselves in front of Graziani’s door. Neither officer was armed. Daddario declared that the partisans would first have to eliminate him to capture Graziani. The Socialists backed down and departed, ‘amid a flood of oaths and blasphemies about the American coddling the filthy fascists.'”

Daddario received the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal, and he later served in the Korean War as a member of the Connecticut National Guard.

His political career started when he was elected mayor of Middletown at age 28. After a two-year term, he became a judge on the Middletown Municipal Court, where he served until he was elected to Congress. Following six terms in the House, Daddario’s expertise in science research set him up for leadership roles at the Office of Technology Assessment and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the 1970s. Later he served as co-chairman of the AAAS’ joint standing committee with the American Bar Association, the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists.

Among Daddario’s survivors are three sons, including Richard Daddario, whom New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently appointed head of the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism efforts, and seven grandchildren. His wife, dance teacher Berenice Carbo Daddario, died in Washington in 2007.