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Thomas F. McBride, 74; Watergate prosecutor

November 05, 2003|From Associated Press

Thomas F. McBride, a former associate prosecutor in the Watergate prosecutor's office, has died. He was 74.

McBride died, after a fall, of a cerebral hemorrhage on Oct. 31 in Portland, Ore.

He fell just a day before he was to attend an event in Washington, D.C., marking the 30th anniversary of the "Saturday Night Massacre," when President Richard M. Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and abolished the special Watergate prosecutor's office.

Nixon ordered Cox fired for refusing to obey the president's instructions on the handling of the Watergate tapes.

McBride's wife, Catherine Milton, said she and her husband were having dinner when they heard the news bulletin in 1973.

"Our son came in yelling, 'Dad, dad, you've just been abolished,' " Milton recalled.

Milton said that her husband, fearing that important paperwork would be destroyed, immediately drove to the office to remove files for safety and preservation.

As associate prosecutor, McBride led the task force on campaign contributions and the selling of ambassadorships. He was responsible for accepting guilty pleas from some high-level corporate officials and others, such as shipping magnate and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Maurice Stans, the chief fund-raiser for Nixon's reelection campaign.

Born in Elgin, Ill., McBride graduated from New York University and Columbia Law School before beginning his legal career as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office. He went to Washington to become a trial lawyer for the organized crime task force set up by Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy.

McBride later joined the Peace Corps, where he was deputy director for Latin America. After Watergate, he became the first inspector general of the Department of Agriculture.

In 1982, McBride moved to California to become associate dean for administration at Stanford Law School.

During this time, he also served on the President's Commission on Organized Crime and the California Council on Mental Health.

From 1989 to 1992, McBride directed Stanford's Department of Environmental Health and Safety. While at Stanford, McBride taught human biology as a lecturer.

After returning to Washington, Milton was executive director of the Commission on National and Community Service. The couple moved to Portland, Ore., in 2002.

In addition to his wife, McBride is survived by four adult children, his brother and a sister.

A memorial service for McBride will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 N.E. Hancock St., in Portland.

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