- Associated Press - Thursday, January 29, 2015

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - The day John T. Myers walked out of the U.S. Capitol for the last time as a member of Congress may have been the end of an era.

Myers, who died Tuesday at his home in Covington at 87, was first elected to Congress in 1966. A former banker, he would go on to serve Indiana’s 7th District for the next three decades.

“In the politics of today, it’s going to be very difficult for another John Myers to emerge,” said Craig McKee, a U.S. Magistrate Judge and Terre Haute attorney who had a long friendship with Myers that started when McKee was a summer intern for Myers in Washington in 1978.

Myers, a Republican, thrived on meeting people face-to-face.

He visited his constituency nearly every weekend and had an uncanny memory for names. Today’s members of Congress, who must start raising money as soon as they are elected, may not be able to operate as Myers once did, McKee told the Tribune-Star (https://bit.ly/1CCzvEy ).

Myers started his congressional service when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and America’s military was in Vietnam. He left in 1997, not long after his party had broken the Democrats’ four-decade hold on the House of Representatives. He was in Washington for Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, the Reagan Revolution, Operation Desert Storm and for most of the Clinton years.

During that time, Myers operated quietly, but effectively behind the scenes, said Don Nattkemper, a former Vigo County Republican Party chairman. Myers was not one to introduce legislation just to make headlines, he said.

“He was a very silent mover in Washington,” Nattkemper said. “He didn’t make great waves. He was very effective behind the scenes.”

Myers had bipartisan respect on Capitol Hill, said McKee. He would rise to become the ranking Republican on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and was also the senior GOP member of the “Ethics” Committee. Indeed, Myers was on the secretive panel when it investigated then-Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright and, later, Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Myers was just one of a crowded field of Republicans in the party’s 1966 primary, Nattkemper recalled. “It was a full field.” But, once he got a foothold in D.C., Myers was untouchable.

That’s because Myers “never quit campaigning,” Nattkemper said. “It’s so grueling to do what he did.” However, it was labor of love, the former county party chairman said. “He loved to do it.”

Myers was known for the efficiency of his office, a capable staff and impeccable constituent service.

“John Myers was a classic Indiana politician of the last half of the 20th century,” McKee said. He didn’t pay a lot of attention to a person’s party affiliation, he said. “That’s why he won by such large margins.” Even in strongly Democratic Vigo County, Myers often carried the vote, Nattkemper said.

“John was a very much ‘hands-on,’ personal-interaction politician,” McKee said. “He wasn’t an ideologue by any stretch of the imagination. He was very content being a member of Congress and doing a very good job for the people of his district.”


Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

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