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12- term N.C. congressman

September 04, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bill Hefner, 79, a former 12-term Democratic congressman from North Carolina, Southern Baptist gospel singer and radio station owner, died of a brain aneurysm Wednesday at a hospital in Huntsville, Ala.

Hefner and his wife, Nancy, moved to Alabama after he decided not to run again in 1998.

Hefner joined the U.S. House in 1975 and was dean of North Carolina's U.S. House delegation when he decided not to seek a 13th term. He represented the 8th Congressional District, made up of several south-central counties.

A member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, he fought for funding for Ft. Bragg in his home state when he was chairman and later as ranking minority member of a military subcommittee that had say over most construction on U.S. military bases.

He also was known for his work on veterans issues.

Hefner owned a radio station in Kannapolis, N.C. He was swept into office during the 1974 elections, when Republicans paid at the polls for the Watergate scandal.

He moved up the seniority ladder, becoming a power broker who was called on by both Democratic and Republican governors to get funding for state projects.

A Tennessee native who attended school in Alabama, Willie Gathrel Hefner was a founding member of the gospel group called the Harvesters Quartet, which began in 1953 in Charlotte, N.C.

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