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Former Frist Chief of Staff Liebengood Dies

Howard Liebengood, former chief of staff of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), died Thursday at his home in Cordova, Tenn. He was 62.

As of press time Friday, the cause of death was undetermined.

Liebengood had previously served as chief of staff for then-Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) until Thompson’s retirement in 2003, after which Liebengood announced his own retirement plans. He put off those plans, however, to head Frist’s personal office when the Senator was elevated to Majority Leader. Last month, Liebengood retired once again.

“He is probably best remembered by his jovial manner and long repertoire of Senate anecdotes,” Frist said in a statement Friday. “When I came to my current position, I needed the counsel of wise, experienced leaders to help me meet the challenges of my new role. Without question, Howard Liebengood was indispensable.”

Liebengood was born and raised in Indiana. He was a graduate of Kansas State University and Vanderbilt University Law School.

He had worked in government, the private sector and the military. He served in Vietnam as a captain in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps and received the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal in 1970. In 1973, he served as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee.

He was a founding partner of a law firm with Thompson before returning to Washington to serve as minority staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He went on to serve as legislative counsel to Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and was later named Senate Sergeant-At-Arms by Baker.

After going back into private practice for several years, Liebengood came back to Capitol Hill to serve as Thompson’s chief of staff. After Thompson’s retirement, Liebengood joined Frist as chief of staff for his personal office.

Plans for a funeral service were not available as of press time.

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