Robert Taft Jr., scion of dynasty

December 08, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Robert Taft Jr., a former U.S. representative and senator who was the grandson of a president and the son of a presidential contender, died Monday at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati. He was 76.

The Cincinnati Enquirer said he had a stroke on Nov. 29.

The scion of a wealthy Ohio family that helped define Republican politics in the United States for more than a century, he never sought to follow his grandfather's or father's quests for the White House.

He was the great-grandson of Alphonso Taft, who served as attorney general and as secretary of war under President Ulysses S. Grant in 1876; the grandson of William Howard Taft, who was president of the United States from 1909 to 1913 and chief justice of the United States from 1921 to 1930, and the son of Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president in 1948 and again in 1952.

Robert A. Taft Jr. won four terms in the Ohio Legislature and ran for national office six times, serving as a representative from Ohio for three terms and as a senator for one term, yet early on he seemed to be a reluctant politician.

When his father died in 1953, Mr. Taft rejected pleas by Republicans that he seek the vacant Senate seat, saying that he lacked the necessary experience.

From 1977 to 1988, when Mr. Taft retired, he was a partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister.

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, he began his political career in 1954, when he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. He was elected to Congress in 1962 and two years later made an unsuccessful run for the Senate.

He was again elected to Congress in 1966 and re-elected in 1968. Two years later he made another bid for the Senate and this time was successful, defeating Gov. James Rhodes in the Republican primary and Mr. Metzenbaum in the general election.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; two sons, two daughters and six grandchildren.

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