Saturday, February 17, 2018
Politics

Memories remain in D.C. office of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who privately dealt with cancer

WASHINGTON — The sign outside the office reads with sterile precision: "Office of the 13th Congressional District of Florida."

The walls inside are bare, outlines of picture frames visible against paint muted by light and time.

Three weeks after U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young died, his presence is similarly fading in Room 2407 of the Rayburn House Office Building, a warren of influence the Pinellas County Republican occupied for more than a quarter century.

"I can't go in there," Beverly Young, his widow, said in an interview Friday, alternately sad and angry as she described showing up to see the name removed from outside, the paper shredders and the big gray trash bins. "They are really cold and callous. It was like he didn't exist," she said.

Mrs. Young revealed more about the circumstances of her husband's death. He was hospitalized last month after falling in the bathroom of their rented home in Arlington, Va. "He was walking with his walker and felt a little dizzy and fell backwards and he broke his hip and fractured his pelvis."

She thinks the injuries caused a blood clot that led to Young's death when he declined to undergo risky surgery. Young, 82, needed a walker because of back troubles that had grown increasingly painful. He was first injured in a 1970 plane crash — he kept a piece of debris in his office — and had surgery in 2010, then was dropped in a military hospital, adding to his woes.

Young also had blood cancer, his wife said.

Five years ago he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells found in bone marrow. Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, died of complications from the disease in 2011. Young had chemotherapy and the situation stabilized, Mrs. Young said.

That timing means he twice ran for re-election without disclosing his cancer.

"He wanted to continue to do his job," Mrs. Young said, insisting it did not affect him and that her husband was prepared to reveal it if it did.

The cancer did complicate repairing the broken hip, because his bones could not support a medical pin, she said.

"It was the hip fracture that caused the blood clot," she said. "That fall killed my husband."

There are stories in the silence of the old office.

The giant window behind his desk provides an unobstructed view of the Capitol, which on a recent afternoon was awash in the red-orange of a fall sunset. Seniority got Young here — he was first elected in 1970.

"He said it was like a portrait, something that didn't look real," Mrs. Young said. "He was real proud of how hard he worked to get where he was. When he swung that seat around and looked out, it was just a sense of pride."

When Young got the office in 1985, a big crowd from Pinellas County excitedly gathered to watch President Ronald Reagan's second inauguration from that window. But it was so cold that year, the ceremony was moved indoors.

In the office, generals and CEOs and White House officials sat in bulky blue chairs and kissed up to the chairman of the appropriations committee, and later defense appropriations. Behind them, just below a clock, hung a picture that reminded Young of humble roots:

The one-room shack he lived in as a boy in Pennsylvania.

Most of the family photos have been boxed up, but a wall is still lined with models of military aircraft Young helped provide funding for. He flew in many of them, and those photos are still here.

His desk drawers have been cleaned of the "challenge coins" military officials gave him but the Bible still sits on top, nestled among the directory for the 112th Congress, a history of the U.S. Supreme Court and a book named Yesterday's St. Petersburg. Nearby are blank notecards embossed with the Great Seal of the United States and blue print that reads:

C.W. Bill Young

United States Congress

Washington, D.C.

The shredders are here for the constituent letters and other documents with personal information on them.

But the appropriations documents and drafts of bills — including one creating the National Marrow Donor Program — are being saved and will be given to St. Petersburg College in Seminole, where Young's district office operated.

As in Washington, staffers there answer the phone, "13th Congressional District of Florida," as instructed by House administrators.

There is resentment of the impersonal nature of it, and tears, but also work. The staffers are taking calls from constituents, helping with Social Security, veterans disability claims and immigration issues.

They will remain in place until a special election is held, in March, to fill the rest of Young's term. The victor will get this Washington office, but a more senior member will get it in the next Congress. (The next most senior member is Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., but he would have to want to move.)

Alex Leary can be reached at [email protected]

     
       
Comments
Parkland vigil and rally scheduled for Saturday night in downtown St. Pete

Parkland vigil and rally scheduled for Saturday night in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A group of activists were scheduled to host a rally in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday night, demanding lawmakers pass gun control legislation.Organizers said the rally, scheduled for 5 p.m. at Williams Park, was planned in respo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

It’s been five years since the guns and immigration debate collided at the same time on Capitol Hill. This time, the results were even more unproductive.In early 2013, weeks after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at an elementary school ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

TAMPA — Well, that was fast.Adult film actress Stormy Daniels made her first appearance at Thee Dollhouse on Friday evening, the first of several shows planned this weekend at the Tampa strip club.She took the stage about 7 p.m. dressed in a pink, fl...
Published: 02/16/18

3 things we just learned from the indictment of 13 Russians in the Mueller investigation

We have the first indictment in Robert Mueller’s investigation that actually has to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The special counsel on Friday indicted 13 Russians in connection with a large-scale troll farm effort aimed at influenc...
Published: 02/16/18
Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

NEW YORK — Under pressure over his handling of abuse allegations against a top aide, White House chief of staff John Kelly on Friday ordered sweeping changes in how the White House clears staff members to gain access to classified information, acknow...
Published: 02/16/18
Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Associated PressSALT LAKE CITY — Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is running for a Utah Senate seat, officially launching his political comeback attempt Friday by praising his adopted home state as a model for an acrimonious national governmen...
Published: 02/16/18
Russians charged with meddling in 2016 presidential race

Russians charged with meddling in 2016 presidential race

WASHINGTON — Thirteen Russians, including a businessman close to Vladimir Putin were charged Friday in an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda, aimed in part at helping Republican Donald T...
Published: 02/16/18
Mitt Romney makes it official: He’s running for Senate in Utah

Mitt Romney makes it official: He’s running for Senate in Utah

Mitt Romney on Friday announced his long-expected Senate bid in his adopted state of Utah with a low-key rollout intended to duck roiling Republican divisions and avoid signaling that he will play the role of foil to President Donald Trump. "Utah...
Published: 02/16/18
Pasco judicial election pauses then resumes

Pasco judicial election pauses then resumes

NEW PORT RICHEY – Pasco County Judge Candy VanDercar announced her retirement this month.Then she took it back.VanDercar, who faces mandatory retirement from the bench because she turns 70 in September, sent her formal resignation to Gov. Rick Scott ...
Published: 02/15/18
Florida House OKs exceptions to proposed child marriage ban

Florida House OKs exceptions to proposed child marriage ban

Associated PressTALLAHASSEE — Most child marriages in Florida would be banned — though not for 16- and 17-year-olds when there’s a pregnancy — under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the House on Wednesday. The House carved out the exception by chang...
Published: 02/14/18