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Man Instrumental in Drafting Social Security Act Dead at 84

October 2, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Murray Webb Latimer, a pension expert who helped draft the original Social Security Act a half-century ago, is dead at age 84.

Latimer, the first chairman of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, died Tuesday at Georgetown University Hospital of respiratory insufficiency after a long illness.

He took part in ceremonies at Social Security’s headquarters in Baltimore last Aug. 14 marking the 50th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing the act that created the original federal safety net for the aged, poor and jobless.

Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret M. Heckler saluted him on that occasion as one of the ″founding fathers″ of the system.

The law started not only the federal old-age pensions but also unemployment insurance, aid to dependent children and a latticework of other health and welfare programs.

Latimer helped craft several New Deal programs during a 13-year government career that started in 1934.

He was chairman of the old-age security subcommittee of Roosevelt’s Committee on Economic Security that actually designed the pension program. After it became law, he organized and directed the fledgling Social Security Board’s bureau of federal old age benefits in 1935-36.

In addition to being chairman of the Railroad Retirement Board from 1934 to 1946, he served in the State Department during World War II as chief executive officer of foreign relief and rehabilitation operations.

Latimer left the government in 1947 after completing a guaranteed wage study originally ordered by Roosevelt. He opened his own industrial relations consulting firm, where he designed and drafted pension plans for such clients at the United Steelworkers of America.

Latimer was born in Clinton, Miss., in 1901 and was graduated in 1919 from Mississippi College, where his father was a professor of Latin and Greek. He was graduated first in his class from the Harvard Business School in 1924 and worked for Industrial Relations Counselors, a group funded by the Rockefeller brothers, from 1926-33.

He leaves his wife, Edith, of Washington; a son, Hugh, of Potomac, Md.; two daughters, Lenore Judith of New York, and Margaret of Brooklyn, N.Y., and three grandchildren.

Services will be held Friday at Gawler’s Funeral Home here.

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