Joseph G. Anastasi, 68, Maryland economic development secretary


Joseph G. Anastasi, a former Maryland economic development secretary who was active in numerous Democratic political campaigns, died of a brain tumor Tuesday at the Eugene B. Casey House, a Rockville hospice. He was 68.

He began his political career chairing a Silver Spring business and citizen committee for John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and went on to manage campaigns for two Maryland governors.

"He was an extremely competent, capable man who was good to have working with you," former Gov. Marvin Mandel said yesterday. "He participated in so many of my discussions and was especially good about replying to any call or letter he received."

Born in Washington, Mr. Anastasi was a Gonzaga College high school graduate and earned a degree at Georgetown University, where he became interested in politics and met Kennedy, then a senator.

Mr. Anastasi later was co-chairman of a Montgomery County fundraising committee for Thomas Finan, one of four candidates in a bitterly contested 1966 Democratic primary for governor. Mr. Finan was defeated in the primary by George P. Mahoney, who lost in the general election to Republican Spiro Agnew.

In 1968, Mr. Anastasi was Maryland's executive director of the Humphrey-Muskie presidential campaign, a post that won him the recognition of Mr. Mandel, who made him manager of his 1970 gubernatorial campaign. In 1972, Mr. Anastasi ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat held by Republican Gilbert Gude.

In 1977, Mr. Anastasi was named state economic development secretary under acting Gov. Blair Lee III. During his tenure, Mr. Anastasi issued what a Sun editorial called "a provocative and unprecedented report warning that Maryland's prosperity was threatened by high taxes and environmental restrictions."

In 1978, Mr. Anastasi was briefly on a ticket as a gubernatorial running mate of Francis B. Burch and wound up as campaign manager for Mr. Lee, who lost in the primary to Harry R. Hughes.

After leaving politics, Mr. Anastasi became a developer and worked in the Washington suburbs. He retired four years ago.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, 917 Montrose Road, Rockville, where he was a member.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Nancy Holmes; three sons, Stephen Joseph Anastasi of Rockville, Andrew Francis Anastasi of New York City and Daniel Paul Anastasi of Kensington; a daughter, Mary Christine Sims of Kensington; his parents, Joseph and Vivian Anastasi of Rockville; and nine grandchildren.

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