WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Peter Kyros of Portland was remembered Thursday as a dedicated lawmaker who never lost his interest in politics and kept working until months before he died at age 86.

Mr. Kyros, a Democrat who represented Maine’s First Congressional District from 1967 to 1975, died Tuesday, the day before he would have turned 87. He worked for a firm in Washington, D.C., until fairly recently, according to family members.

A Portland native, Mr. Kyros built Liberty ships in South Portland at the beginning of World War II before enlisting in the Navy in 1943. He later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and, after leaving the Navy in 1954, received his law degree from Harvard Law School.

The late Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine recruited him to run for Congress in 1966, according to biographical information in his obituary. Among other things, he is credited with helping to establish the current 200-mile offshore territorial limit, aimed at protecting U.S. fishing interests from foreign fleets.

“His love of the ocean was something constant in his life, and during his tenure in Congress, he fiercely defended the fishermen and coastal interests of Maine’s First Congressional District on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee,” said U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in a prepared statement Thursday. “Indeed, Peter’s energy and enthusiasm remained forever boundless, and his tireless efforts on behalf of our beloved state will continue to reverberate for generations to come.”

Mr. Kyros’ love of politics and history appears to have rubbed off on at least one family member.

His grandson Nick Schaufelberger is an intern in the office of Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine. Schaufelberger said he remembers being impressed by his grandfather’s ability to blend history and politics as they walked around the Capitol years ago.

He said his grandfather was pleased that he had chosen to intern on Capitol Hill, and they frequently talked about the latest happenings.

“He was always asking me for information about what was going on, and he always wanted to talk about politics,” said Schaufelberger, who will be a senior at Boston College this fall, in an interview Thursday.

Mr. Kyros served in Congress during a turbulent period that included the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation. He went to Vietnam four times and, although initially supportive of the war policy, he began speaking out against it despite his military background.

“All of us in the Congress are at fault for not standing up at that time and being more meticulous about what we do,” Mr. Kyros said in an interview several years ago with WCSH-TV’s Bill Green. “But it was a Cold War era and it was kind of hard. But you can study it and learn lessons from it as we approach Iraq.”

After losing his House seat to Republican David Emery in 1974, Mr. Kyros continued to work in Washington, D.C., initially for the State Department.

He worked later for several firms that were active on Capitol Hill, advocating for scientific and medical research, instructing others on congressional procedure and working with federal administrative law judges.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine expressed his condolences to the Kyros family.

“From his service in the Navy, to his time in Congress and at the U.S. State Department, Peter was a model statesman who held a profound devotion for and commitment to the people of Maine,” Michaud said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Kyros is survived by his wife, Susan, his daughter, Joanne Carol Kyros, his son-in-law, Thomas Schaufelberger, his daughter-in-law, Valerie Kyros, and five grandchildren.

 

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

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