About William Victor Roth, Jr.
William Victor "Bill" Roth, Jr. (July 22, 1921 – December 13, 2003) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a veteran of World War II and a member of the Republican Party, who served as U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Delaware.
Early life and family:
Roth was born in Great Falls, Montana. He attended public schools in Helena, Montana, graduating from Helena High School, which is also the alma mater of Senator Max Baucus, who succeeded Roth as Senate Finance Committee Chairman in 2001. Roth graduated from the University of Oregon in 1943, Harvard Business School in 1947, and Harvard Law School in 1949. During World War II he served in a United States Army intelligence unit from 1943 until 1946.
Professional and political career:
After being admitted to the California Bar in 1950, he moved permanently to Delaware in 1954, and began his work as an attorney for the Hercules Corporation. He married Jane Richards in 1965 and they had two children, William V. III and Katharine. Jane Richards Roth is also a lawyer. She was U.S. District Court Judge, for the District of Delaware from 1985 until 1991 and since was a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. They were members of the Episcopal Church.
Roth lost the election for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware in 1960. In 1966, he defeated incumbent U.S. Representative Harris B. McDowell, Jr., and went on to serve two terms in the United State House of Representatives from January 3, 1967 until December 31, 1970.
He then began his five terms in the United States Senate, succeeding the retiring incumbent U.S. Senator John J. Williams. He served in the U.S. Senate from January 1, 1971 until January 3, 2001, having been defeated in the 2000 election by the Democratic candidate, Governor Thomas R. Carper.
Roth was known as a fiscal conservative. He was a long time member of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Senate Committee on Finance, serving as Chairman from September 12, 1995 through January 3, 2001. He was best remembered as a strong advocate of tax cuts, and he co-authored the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, also known as the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut with Jack Kemp. Roth was also the legislative sponsor of the individual retirement account plan that bears his name, the Roth IRA. It is a popular individual retirement account that has existed since 1998. The Roth 401(k), which did not become available until 2006, is also named after Roth. He was also one of the few Republicans to vote for the Brady Bill and the ban on semi-automatic weapons. Roth strongly supported environmental protections.
Roth was a witty man but unnatural campaigner. To help himself, he would ease himself into public appearances by bringing along a Saint Bernard dog. His succession of St. Bernards through his 34-year political career became a trademark of sorts.
Death and legacy
Roth died in Washington, D.C. It was recently announced that the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge carrying Delaware Route 1 will be named for him. The bridge is a cable-stayed bridge and notable landmark in northern Delaware. Roth helped secure its funding.