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ticed that belief with a vengeance: He carefully saved all the string from packages that arrived at his home.
As a courtly Southern gentleman, STENNIS was known to interrupt a Senate committee hearing to find a seat for a woman spectator. But he had little tolerance for miniskirts and other modern feminine trends.
When a female Senate aide once sat on a sofa wearing a skirt that exposed a good deal of her thigh, STENNIS averted his eyes and grumbled to a colleague: “I'm going to get a bolt of cloth so that lady can finish her dress.”
After his retirement, STENNIS served as executive-in-residence at the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville. The university houses the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and the Stennis Center for Public Service, created by Congress.
“I do believe the most important thing I can do now is to help young people understand the past and prepare for the future,” STENNIS said in 1990. “As long as I have energy left, I want to use it to the benefit of students.”
STENNIS is survived by two children. His wife, Coy Hines Stennis, whom he always called “Miss Coy,” died in 1983.
[From the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, April 24, 1995)
JOHN STENNIS, 93, FORMER MISSISSIPPI SENATOR
(By Tom Bennett)
JOHN C. STENNIS, a courtly Mississippi Democrat who exercised vast influence over America's military during his four decades in the Senate and was the mentor of Georgia's Sam Nunn, died Sunday in Jackson, MS. He was 93.
He died at St. Dominic Hospital, where he had been taken several days ago for pneumonia, said his son, John Hampton Stennis.
He spent 40 years in the Senate, from 1948 until he retired in 1988.
"He was a great Senator in every way. He was effective, respected and deeply appreciated by the people in Mississippi,” said Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). “He was truly a man of great stature. We have suffered a great loss."
A Democrat, Mr. STENNIS was tutored by a famous Georgian, and later he returned the favor. Georgia's Richard B. Russell taught him the ways of the Senate. Mr. STENNIS replaced Mr. Russell as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1969, and after Mr. Russell's death in 1971, Mr. STENNIS took over his office and desk. In turn, when the young Sam Nunn of Georgia went to Washington as a U.S. Senator in 1973, Mr. STENNIS took him under his wing and helped him get a seat on Armed Services. In 1987, Mr. Nunn became Armed Services chairman, restoring Southern leadership in an important post.
Often, his votes aided Georgians. For example, he blocked a 1969 attempt by Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin to amend a spending measure and cut off $533 million for 23 C-5A cargo planes to be built by the Lockheed-Georgia Co.
Mr. STENNIS chaired the Armed Services Committee from 1969 to 1980, then headed the Senate Appropriations Committee from 1980 to 1988. In both roles, he wielded tremendous power over U.S. military spending.
He earned a reputation in Washington for fairness and finesse that landed him delicate committee assignments and close associations with eight U.S. Presidents. But his opposition to integration blotted his record.
He seemed indestructible, keeping his seat for decades, before and after the civil rights revolution, and especially so on January 30, 1973. That day he survived a shooting during an armed robbery outside his Washington home.
Two men confronted the Senator as he stepped from his car. He turned over his billfold, wristwatch and Phi Beta Kappa key. Then the robbers said, according to Mr. STENNIS, “We ought to shoot you anyway,” and they did, twice.
One bullet entered the Senator's left thigh and settled against a bone; it was removed later in surgery. A second bullet entered his chest, tore downward through his stomach and intestine and lodged in his lower back. Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center lasted 6 hours. When Mr. STENNIS returned to his Senate seat, Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson lauded him, saying, “The Senate is whole again.”
He was born August 3, 1901, in DeKalb, MS. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1923, then attended the University of Virginia Law School.
He began his public service in 1928 in the Mississippi Legislature, then served as a district attorney and circuit judge.
The Senator's body will lie in state Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson and from 4-6 p.m. at DeKalb Presbyterian Church in DeKalb. Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Pinecrest Cemetery in DeKalb.
Survivors include his son, a Jackson lawyer, and his daughter, Margaret Womble.
[From the Indianapolis News, April 24, 1995)
JOHN STENNIS WAS SENATOR
(By Wire Reports)
JACKSON, Mississippi. JOHN CORNELIUS STENNIS, 93, a Mississippi Democrat who trained generations of Senators in the ways of Washington, opposed virtually all civil rights legislation and staunchly supported the Vietnam War, died Sunday, several days after being hospitalized with pneumonia.
During 41 years in the Senate, STENNIS earned a reputation for fairness and finesse that landed him delicate committee assignments and close associations with eight U.S. Presidents.
"He was a great Senator in every way. He was effective, respected and deeply appreciated by the people in Mississippi,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS).
As chairman of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee in the 1970s, STENNIS wielded more clout over military matters than perhaps any civilian but the President.
Nicknamed the “conscience of the Senate” for his work on the Senate's code of ethics and his religious convictions, STENNIS overcame personal tragedy to continue public service.
He was wounded by robbers and left bleeding on the sidewalk near his northwest Washington home in 1973. Coy Hines Stennis, his wife of 52 years, died in 1983. And in 1984, he lost his left leg to cancer, and had to use a wheelchair.
“Discouraged? I suppose everybody's had his ups and downs. But I've never surrendered,” STENNIS said in 1984.
(From the Gannett News Service, April 24, 1995)
FORMER SENATOR STENNIS DIES
(By the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger) JOHN CORNELIUS STENNIS, 93, a drawling Mississippi country lawyer who attained some of the most powerful positions during four decades in the U.S. Senate, died of pneumonia Sunday at St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital.
He had been hospitalized since Thursday, said his son, John Hampton Stennis of Jackson.
STENNIS, who retired in 1988, played a major role in the country's affairs. At one time he carried as much clout over military matters as any civilian except the President.
“I shall go to the Senate without obligations or commitments, save to serve the plain people of Mississippi,” the DeKalb native said November 5, 1947, upon his election.
Throughout his Senate career, STENNIS lived in an unassuming, one-story white clapboard house. His office, a nondescript red brick building across from the county courthouse, bore a simple sign: “John C. Stennis, Lawyer."
That sign was a deceptively modest description for a country-born lawyer who rose to become a confidant of Presidents and a major player in events that led the United States through the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Watergate scandal and into the Reagan years.
"He was one of the great statesmen for our nation in the 20th century," Representative Sonny Montgomery (D-MS), said Sunday. "History will record JOHN STENNIS as a true son of the South. His legacy in Mississippi will never disappear.”
One of seven children, STENNIS was born on a Kemper County farm 36 years after the end of the Civil War.
Elected to two terms in the Mississippi House, STENNIS successfully campaigned for the district prosecuting attorney post, in which he served until 1935.
While he avoided race during his 1947 campaign, STENNIS quickly got caught up in the national civil rights debate once he got to Washington.
His first two speeches on the Senate floor were against Federal antilynching, anti-poll tax and equal employment legislation claiming they represented unconstitutional interference with the States' rights to go rn themselves.
He became a leader in supporting segregation in the South and participated in filibusters that prevented votes on civil rights legislation. In 1956, he helped draft the Southern Manifesto, signed by 101 Southern Congressmen to voice their opposition to desegregation.
But once the civil rights laws were enacted in the 1960s, STENNIS urged compliance.
In a 1965 plea, STENNIS said Mississippi “above all must maintain a spirit of law and order. Any other course will take us downward and will eventually blight our future.”
By 1982, STENNIS' stance on racial issues had changed to the point he voted for an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In 1954, he became the first Senate Democrat to call for the censure of red-baiting Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.
In a speech that made national headlines, STENNIS said McCarthy had poured “slush and slime” on the Senate with his attacks. Senate observers saw his speech as a serious blow to McCarthy's efforts to escape censure.
STENNIS' speech drew accolades from around the country. “I didn't know what it was to get such press as that,” he said.
It was also in 1954 that STENNIS warned that the United States was in danger of being drawn into the fighting in Vietnam by supplying assistance to the French effort to defeat the Vietnamese communists.
Committing U.S. forces could result in a "long, costly and indecisive war that will leave us without victory," he warned.
But STENNIS, after he had moved up as Armed Services chairman, gave the war his total support. In 1966, he suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia should the Chinese enter the war.
STENNIS landed on the powerful Appropriations Committee in 1955. In 1969, he became chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
In 1973, he was critically wounded by gunshots from two young muggers outside his Washington home. The Senator was shot in the left side and in the thigh after his assailants took his wallet, a gold pocket watch, his Phi Beta Kappa key and a quarter. For 5 weeks the 71-year-old STENNIS slipped in and out of consciousness in Walter Reed Army Hospital.
STENNIS faced his first serious political challenger in 1982 from well-financed Republican Haley Barbour of Yazoo City. The campaign focused primarily on age—whether STENNIS at 81 was too old or Barbour at 34 was
STENNIS won with 65 percent of the vote.
In 1983, “Miss Coy,” his wife of 54 years, died. Also that year, he had cardiovascular surgery and suffered pneumonia. A year later, doctors removed his cancerous left leg.
With his health problems and his age working against him, STENNIS announced his retirement on October 19, 1987, shortly after routine prostate surgery in Washington.
"I am forced to recognize that another 6-year term in the Senate would require me to promise to continue my work here through age 93,” the 86year-old STENNIS said.
[From the Fresno Bee, April 24, 1995)
STENNIS, SENATOR FROM 1947 TO 1988, DIES; MISSISSIPPI
DEMOCRAT WIELDED MILITARY CLOUT
(By Stephen Hawkins)
Former Senator JOHN C. STENNIS, a courtly Mississippi Democrat who exercised vast influence over America's military during his four decades in the Senate, died Sunday. He was 93.
Senator STENNIS died around 3:30 p.m. at St. Dominic Hospital, where he had been taken several days ago for pneumonia, said his son John Hampton Stennis.
Senator STENNIS earned a reputation in Washington for fairness and finesse that landed him delicate committee assignments and close association with eight U.S. Presidents. But his opposition to integration blotted his record.
Senator STENNIS joined the Senate in 1947. At the time of his retirement in 1988, he was its oldest member.
“He was a great Senator in every way. He was effective, respected and deeply appreciated by the people in Mississippi,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). "He was truly a man of great stature. We have suffered a great loss."
Senator STENNIS was born August 3, 1901, in DeKalb and graduated from Mississippi State University in 1923 before attending the University of Virginia Law School.
Serving as chairman of both the Armed Services Committee and the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee during the 1970s, he wielded more clout over military matters than perhaps any civilian except the President.
He was a leading backer of the Vietnam War. But in the war's waning days, he co-sponsored legislation to set limits on a president's power to commit U.S. forces to combat without congressional consent.
He condemned the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation decision, but in 1983 he switched and voted for an extension of the Voting Rights Act.
He later said he supported the advancement of all races.
[From the Commercial Appeal (Memphis), April 24, 1995)
MISSISSIPPI'S STENNIS, “MR. INTEGRITY," DIES AT 93, SENATOR FOR FOUR
DECADES NEVER LOST AN ELECTION
(By William C. Bayne and Sarah A. Derks) Former Senator JOHN CORNELIUS STENNIS, who spent four decades in the Senate exercising vast influence over America's military, died Sunday. The Mississippi Democrat was 93.
STENNIS died about 3:30 p.m. at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, MS, where he had been taken several days ago for pneumonia, said his son, John Hampton Stennis.
The Senator earned a reputation in Washington for fairness and finesse that landed him delicate committee assignments and close association with eight U.S. Presidents. But his opposition to integration blotted his record.
He joined the Senate in 1947. At the time of his retirement in 1988, he was its oldest member.
"He was a great Senator in every way. He was effective, respected and deeply appreciated by the people in Mississippi,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). “He was truly a man of great stature. We have suffered a great loss."
Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice, who called STENNIS “a key fixture in America's winning the Cold War,” also said the former Senator will be greatly missed.
"All of Mississippi mourns for Senator JOHN C. STENNIS, one of the outstanding Americans ever to serve in the United States Senate," Fordice said.