Posted: Dec. 15, 2003
WILLIAM V. ROTH JR., 1921-2003
obituary was released by the Roth family:
Former U.S. Senator William
V. Roth, Jr., a Republican of Delaware, died Saturday, at the age of
82. Known nationally as the taxpayer’s best friend, Roth was a
staunch advocate of limited government spending, co-author of the
Roth-Kemp tax cuts, and creator of the Roth IRA.
In Delaware, Roth earned a
reputation for providing first-rate constituent services to people
regardless of political affiliation.
Roth was born July 22, 1921
in Great Falls, Montana. A veteran of World War II, Roth served as
a captain in the U.S. Army, and was awarded the Bronze Star.
Roth earned a bachelors
degree from the University of Oregon. He also earned a Masters in
Business Administration and a law degree from Harvard University.
As a first-term Congressman
from Delaware, Roth authored the Roth Catalog – the first
comprehensive index of government programs – which continues to be
published as the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.
During his tenure in the
Senate, Roth chaired both the Senate Finance and Governmental
As chairman of the powerful
Senate Finance Committee, Roth pushed forward the most sweeping
welfare reforms in history and fought for the first balanced budget
in over 30 years. He conducted the most extensive investigation
ever into the workings of the Internal Revenue Service, disclosing
widespread abuses of taxpayers and agency employees, and co-authored
the successful IRS Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998.
His work to promote family
savings for home ownership and education, as well as self-reliance
in retirement resulted in expanding traditional Individual
Retirement Accounts, increasing the amount of money that can be
saved by homemakers, and allowing penalty-free withdrawals to be
made for first-time home purchases and educational needs. The Roth
IRA, which allows individuals to invest taxable income that can be
withdrawn tax-free in retirement, is so much a part of everyday
language that it is even listed in the dictionary.
An expert in trade policy,
as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Roth successfully
enacted the most important trade legislation in more than a decade,
including Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for China, the
African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Caribbean Basin
Roth was also a leader on
foreign policy. As President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and
chairman of the Senate NATO Observer Group, Roth championed strong
security alliances in Europe and Asia. He led the Senate in working
to build consensus for NATO enlargement and the unconditional
extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He was a
co-founder of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum and was the
recipient of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun for his
work furthering U.S.-Japan relations. A number of other states
including Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Taiwan also accorded Roth
their highest awards for distinguished service. He served as a
fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and
was a member of the Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign
Relations and the East-West Center.
As former chairman of the
Senate Government Affairs Committee and chairman of the Senate
Permanent subcommittee on Investigations, he led the effort to
reinvent government, making it more effective and requiring
departments and agencies to set and meet performance standards. He
was a primary force behind the drive to clean up wasteful spending,
including costly and inefficient Pentagon procurement practices. He
authored landmark legislation to protect children from pornographic
exploitation and launched investigations into professional boxing,
emerging organized criminal groups, and union corruption.
Roth was also an acclaimed
environmentalist. He received the Wilderness Society’s exclusive
Ansel Adams Award for his work to protect pristine lands, such as
the coastal plain of Alaska, and to clean up America’s beaches,
bays, and rivers.
Roth was first elected to
the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, and reelected in 1968.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1970, where he served 30
years. Roth also served as Delaware State Republican Chairman from
1961 to 1964.
Roth is survived by his wife
of 38 years, the Honorable Jane Richards Roth a federal judge with
the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals; his son William V. Roth III
and his wife Eunhee of Arlington, Virginia; his daughter, Katharine
K. Roth and her husband Chris Weston of Washington, D.C.; four
grandsons, and his beloved St. Bernard, Wilhelm IV.
Funeral services will be
private. However, a public memorial service is planned for 2 pm
Sunday, December 21 at University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall in
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