John M. Slack Jr.

Charleston Gazette
March 19, 1980

Shock, sadness are expressed by colleagues

By Mark Ward

From colleagues on Capitol Hill to former political opponents, many expressed shock and sadness Tuesday at the sudden death of Rep. John Slack Jr. of Charleston.

Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd said, "West Virginia has lost a dedicated congressman and the Congress and our country have been denied the services of a good and conscientious representative."

Byrd described Slack as "a man of outstanding character and exemplary moderation. He was widely recognized for his wise counsel and mature judgment on issues vital to our country and to West Virginia."

Sen. Jennings Randolph said Slack's 22-year congressional career "is characterized by constructive service to the people be represented with some integrity and honor. His colleagues respected him for his attention to details as a leader in the appropriations committee."

Said Jim Comstock of Richwood, "I think he was the most decent man I ever knew."

Comstock, the publisher of The West Virginia Hillbilly, once opposed Slack in a congressional campaign. Comstock said, "There was only one reason for a Republican to run against him and that was to keep the two-party system. He was an awful hard opponent. He never gave you too much."

Republican Mick Staton, who was defeated by Slack in 1978, said he had mixed emotions now about seeking his party's nomination for the congressional seat. "I'm very saddened," Staton said.

Although Slack held prestigious assignments, Gov. Rockefeller said Slack never [sic] was never out of touch with his friends in the Third District.

Said Rockefeller, "He was in the front ranks of the battles for American veterans and for senior citizens. During times in which more government spending seemed the popular answer to every problem that came along, John alone was the voice of restraint.

"On behalf of the people of our state, Mrs. Rockefeller and I extend to Frances Slack and to their son, John Slack III, our deepest sympathy."

Charleston Mayor John Hutchinson credited Slack with securing a $5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration for the Civic Center. "John Slack was always ready to listen not only to the people of Charleston, but all residents of the district," said Hutchinson.

Rep. Nick Joe Rahall said, "From the (Kanawha) county court to county assessor to congressman, John Slack knew that government meant service to the people and he carried out out [sic] that concept with dedication and pride."

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