Byron, Katharine Edgar (1903–1976)

views updated

Byron, Katharine Edgar (1903–1976)

U.S. Representative, Democrat of Maryland, 77th Congress, May 27, 1941–January 43, 1943. Born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 25, 1903; died in Washington, D.C., on December 28, 1976; married William D. Byron (a congressional representative, 1939–41); children: five sons, including Goodloe E. Byron, who served in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1978 and was succeeded upon his death by his wife Beverly Byron .

In 1941, with America on the brink of war, William D. Byron was killed in a plane crash less than two months after beginning his second term in the House of Representatives. Katharine Byron was elected to complete her husband's term in a special election. In the subsequent election, she edged out Republican A. Charles Stewart in a hotly contested battle over issues centering on reaction to the war in Europe. Byron, making appearances with prominent Democrats like first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Representative Estes Kefauver, endorsed America's support of nations fighting the Nazis and advocated battle preparedness for the United States.

Byron's congressional record included membership on the Committee on the Civil Service and the Committee on War Claims. In November 1941, during floor debate on the amendment of the Neutrality Act, she urged acceleration of the delivery of war materiel to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. On the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Byron was one of four representatives designated by Speaker Sam Rayburn to announce their support for a declaration of war on the House floor. In 1942, Byron advocated maintenance of Works Projects Administration Programs as a necessary adjunct to national defense projects.

After filing for reelection, in August 1942 Byron withdrew her name, citing her wish to spend more time with her five sons. In later years, she continued her long-term association with the Red Cross. Katharine Byron died in Washington, D.C., on December 28, 1976.