Other Notable Deaths

April 03, 2008

BILL DICKINSON, 82

Former Congressman

Former Rep. Bill Dickinson, a Democrat-turned-Republican who championed a strong defense and helped make Alabama a two-party state, died Monday at his Montgomery, Ala., home after suffering from colon cancer, longtime aide Walter Bamberg said.

Mr. Dickinson, who served in the House from 1965 to 1993, was one of several Democrats recruited to change parties in 1964 and run as Republicans for Congress in a state that had been solidly Democratic for a century.

Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, lost to President Lyndon Johnson in a landslide but carried five Southern states, plus his own Arizona. His win in Alabama helped Republicans claim five of Alabama's eight seats in the U.S. House.

Former chief of staff Clay Swanzy said Mr. Dickinson had to run ads educating voters, used to voting the straight Democratic ticket, about how to split their ballots between Democrats and Republicans.

Mr. Dickinson served on the House Armed Services Committee, where he became the ranking Republican member.

On the committee, Mr. Dickinson was an ardent defender of military spending through the Vietnam War and protected Alabama military bases.

Mr. Dickinson was re-elected every two years until he decided to retire in 1992.

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