Ex-Rep. Brooks Hays, Aide to Presidents, 83, Dies By Marjorie Hunter
Special to The New York Times
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Brooks Hays, a voice of Southern moderation in his 16 years in Congress, died in his sleep last night at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 83 years old.
While he had made his home in the Washington area for many years, he was very much the product of his native Arkansas, a fiercely loyal Democrat and an accomplished teller of tales, much in the manner of the late Will Rogers.
In his later years in Congress, he was noted for fashioning politically realistic compromises on explosive civil rights issues, and it was he who arranged a meeting between President Eisenhower and Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas to discuss the crisis that led to school de-segregation in Little Rock.
His moderate stand on racial issues cost him his seat in Congress in 1958 when opponents mounted a successful write-in campaign for Dr. Dale Alford, an outspoken segregationist.
Just months later, writing in The New York Times Magazine, Mr. Hays renewed his call for moderation and pre-dicted that the day would come when one could say: "There was a South of fears and misgivings; that South is dead. There is a South of human kindness and of law, of justice and of peace - that South, thank God, is living and daily growing stronger.''
Both before entering Congress in 1942 and after his defeat, Mr. Hays served in various capacities in the Federal Government. As an official in the Depart-ment of Agiculture [sic] under President Roosevelt in the 1930's, he was active in pushing through Congress the Bankhead-Jones Act, which provided loans for poor farmers.
In his post-Congress years, he served in the White House as a special assistant to President Kennedy and as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. He was also a special assist-ant to President Johnson.
Mr. Hays also served as president of the nine-million-member Southern Baptist Convention in 1957 and 1958.
His anecdotes, centered largely on fellow politicians and humble Arkansans, were a constant enjoyment to his old friends. He was always a center of attention as he held forth at annual gatherings of Former Members of Congress, an organization that he and former Republican Representative Walter Judd of Minnesota founded.
One of his favorite tales was about making his maiden speech in the House, The next day, he said, he picked up a copy of the Congressional Record and found, to his dismay, that his speech had been attributed to a fellow Arkansan, Oren Harris.
Mr. Hays said he rushed to the record clerk, scolded him for the error, then apologized for his temper.
" 'Oh that's all right.' " he said the clerk replied, " 'you should have heard Mr. Harris.' "
Lawrence Brooks Hays - he never used his first name - was born Aug. 9, 1898, near Russellville, Ark. He and his father, Steele Hays, were among the few in that section to oppose the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920's, and the father lost his bid for Congress in 1922 because of his moderate racial vews [sic].
Brooks Hays graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1919 and received a law degree from George Washington University in 1922.
In his first bid for political office in 1927 he finished second in a field of seven candidates for Governor. Two years later, he tried again but lost. He was elected Democratic national committeeman in 1932. He was the author of a number of books, including "Hotbed of Tranquillity."
He is survived by his wife, Marian Prather Hays; a son, Steel [sic] Hays, an Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court; a daughter, Betty Brooks Bell of Bethesda; and five grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 4 P.M. Wednesday at Gawler's Funeral Home in Washington. A second service will be held at 11 A.M. Friday at the Second Baptist Church of Little Rock. Burial will be in Russellville, Ark.
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