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Former Senator Frank Moss Dies at 91

Former Senator Frank Moss Dies at 91

Posted - Jan. 29, 2003 at 3:11 p.m.



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(SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Former U.S. Senator Frank Moss of Utah, a liberal Democrat who worked tireless on conservation and other social issues during his 18 years in Congress, died Wednesday. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by a secretary at Moss' law offices in his native Salt Lake City, but other details were not immediately available. He had been ill for about the last year, the secretary said.

In 1958, Moss was elected to the Senate, holding office for three terms before he was defeated by Orrin Hatch in 1976.

Moss, whose nickname was "Ted," was best known for his work in establishing national parks and recreation areas including Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, both in Utah.

Former Utah Gov. Calvin Rampton, a political ally of Moss since the 1930s, said Wednesday that "Ted probably left as many legacies to the preservation of resources as John Muir."

Moss also promoted consumer product safety and pushed the ban on cigarette advertising on radio and television.

While in the Senate, Moss was a driving force behind the Senate committee on aging, was an initial sponsor of the Medicare program and was an advocate for increasing Social Security benefits.

His landmark book, "The Water Crisis," was published in 1967. Ten years later, he co-authored the book, "Too Old, Too Sick, Too Bad: Nursing Homes in America." The book reflected his concerns about the treatment of elderly in the United States.

Moss was one of the last survivors of a group of Democratic leaders who carved out a foothold in Utah in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of them, former Rep. Wayne Owens, who had worked for Moss, died earlier this year on a peace mission to Israel.

After receiving his law degree Moss worked for two years on the legal staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He returned to Utah in 1939 and became a law clerk to Utah Supreme Court Justice James H. Wolfe.

In 1940 he was elected a judge in Salt Lake City's Municipal Court. During World War II he was on the Judge Advocate General's staff of the U.S. Army Air Corps in England. Following the war he returned to Salt Lake and was re-elected a city judge. He was elected Salt Lake County Attorney in 1950 and was re-elected in 1954.

In 1956 Moss ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor. Two years later he ran for the U.S. Senate against two-term incumbent Arthur V. Watkins, who was a close ally of both the Eisenhower administration and the Mormon Church, and also against J. Bracken Lee, a non-Mormon and former two-term Utah governor (1949-57).

Moss was re-elected to a second term in 1964, soundly defeating with 57 percent of the vote Brigham Young University President Ernest L. Wilkinson, a conservative Republican, in a bitter campaign.

He was elected to a third term in 1970 when he won 56 percent of the vote against four-term congressman Lawrence Burton.

In the early years of his Senate career, Moss followed the tradition of sitting in the back row and keeping quiet. As he gained seniority, however, he became increasingly visible and eventually gained a measure of national prominence, in particular with regard to environmental, consumer, and health care issues.

His work as chair of the Consumer Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee probably brought him the most national attention. He sponsored a measure that required improved labeling on cigarette packages about the health hazards of smoking and banned cigarette advertising on radio and television; he also sponsored the Consumer Product Warranty and Guarantee Act, the Toy Safety Act, the Product Safety Act, and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.

Following his loss in 1976 to Hatch, Moss returned to private life and the practice of law in Washington, D.C., and Salt Lake City. The federal courthouse in Salt Lake City is named for him.

Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson was among the numerous politicians who commented on Moss' death.

"His vision and foresight added the "crown jewels" of Capitol Reef and Canyonlands to our national treasures," Matheson said in a statement. "I also salute him for improving the health of our children through efforts to remove cigarette advertising from television. His hard work and dedication to these and other issues improved our quality of life dramatically."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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