Friday, May 26, 2006

Former Conn. Rep. Robert Giaimo dies at 86; helped create the national endowments for the arts and humanities

Former Conn. Rep. Robert Giaimo dies at 86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Rep. Robert Giaimo, a Connecticut Democrat who helped create the national endowments for the arts and humanities, has died. He was 86.

Giaimo died from lung ailments Wednesday at a hospital in Arlington, Va., said his daughter, Barbara Lee Koones. He represented the New Haven area in Congress from 1959 to 1981.

Giaimo co-sponsored the 1965 bill, sought by President Johnson, to create the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, separate grant-making agencies that support the arts and the study of such subjects as literature, history and philosophy.

His efforts on that legislation were instrumental in "unleashing the creative potential of millions of Americans," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who represents the district Giaimo served.

"Bob's priority was always making sure that the work we did in Congress — the programs and the funding — impacted those who needed it most," DeLauro said Thursday.

Born Oct. 15, 1919, in New Haven, Giaimo graduated from Fordham College in 1941 and earned his law degree at the University of Connecticut in 1943. A World War II Army veteran and attorney, he won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1958.

He rose to become chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, but "never forgot the little guy," his daughter said.

"He was a hardworking congressman who never sought the spotlight," Koones said.

Giaimo retired from Congress after 11 terms and returned to the practice of law in Washington, living in Arlington.

Survivors in addition to Koones are his wife, Marion Schuenemann Giaimo, and a granddaughter, Tracy Elizabeth Phillips. A funeral was planned next week in Connecticut.

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