Myer Feldman, 92, an attorney and advisor to two presidents, and a founding board member of the Special Olympics, died of heart disease Thursday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.
Feldman went to work in 1957 as a legislative assistant to John Kennedy, then a young senator from Massachusetts, and became a key advisor as Kennedy prepared to run for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination.
He headed the research team that maintained "Nixopedia," a compendium of Vice President Richard Nixon's every utterance, vote and potential weakness, and helped prepare the candidate for crucial debates with his Republican opponent.
After Kennedy's election, Feldman became deputy special counsel to the president. He wrote speeches, worked on trade matters and legislative issues, and served as White House liaison to several Cabinet officials. He later served as an advisor to President Johnson.
Through his friendship with the Kennedy family, Feldman was involved with the Special Olympics from its inception in the 1960s.
In collaboration with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he helped set up the President's Council on Mental Retardation and provided guidance as the Special Olympics grew from a few dozen programs to more than 170 worldwide, with more than 2 million athletes. In addition to his service on the board, he was chairman of the executive committee.
Feldman was born in Philadelphia three years after his parents emigrated from the Ukraine. He earned his bachelor's degree and law degree at the University of Pennsylvania and served in the Army Air Forces during World War II.