Former Rep. Stanford Parris, 80, Dies

Posted March 29, 2010 at 10:56am

Former Rep. Stanford Parris, a Republican who represented the Virginia suburbs in the House, died on Saturday. He was 80.

Parris worked his way up in Virginia politics and became known for his confrontational rhetoric. After serving on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and in the Virginia House, he was elected to just one term in the U.S. House in 1973. After losing in 1974, he spent six years trying to get elected to another political office. Finally, in 1981 he was re-elected to the House. There, he solidified his reputation for fiery politics, particularly on issues related to the District of Columbia. Parris battled Mayor Marion Barry and the D.C. City Council on issues ranging from a requirement that D.C. government employees reside in D.C. to a provision that would prohibit the city government from funding abortions.

In 1990, current Rep. Jim Moran (D), then the mayor of Alexandria, ran against Parris. The ensuing campaign was memorably ugly.

“Moran and Parris clearly did not like each other,” Politics in America 1992 recalled. “Parris compared Moran to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and Moran called Parris ‘a racist’ and ‘a fatuous jerk’ and professed a desire to ‘break his nose.'”

Moran ultimately won with 52 percent of the vote, and President George H.W. Bush appointed Parris president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Parris was born on Sept. 9, 1929, in Champaign, Ill. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1950 and George Washington University Law School in 1958. He served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force from 1950 to 1954 during the Korean War.

Among Parris’ survivors are his third wife, Martha Harper Parris, three children and two grandchildren.