Obituaries

Tom Mathews, 96, promoter of liberal causes and candidates

Tom Mathews served in the Kennedy administration and went on to build a direct-mail operation that raised millions for a variety of progressive causes.
Tom Mathews served in the Kennedy administration and went on to build a direct-mail operation that raised millions for a variety of progressive causes.

NEW YORK — Tom Mathews, a spokesman, strategist, and fund-raiser for liberal causes and candidates for more than three decades, from the Peace Corps to John B. Anderson’s presidential campaign, died on Oct. 14 at his home in Waterford, Va. He was 96.

With his partners at Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co., direct-mail specialists in Reston, Va., Mr. Mathews had raised, since 1970, millions of dollars to nurture both grass-roots groups and more established organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Emily’s List, Greenpeace, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Wilderness Society.

During the Kennedy administration he was the first information director of the Peace Corps and a deputy secretary of state for congressional affairs. He also served as the Washington-based spokesman for Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968.

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In 1980, Mr. Mathews recruited the media expert David Garth to manage Anderson’s independent presidential campaign and served as the candidate’s traveling press secretary. Anderson, a Republican congressman from Illinois, ran as an independent, losing to Ronald Reagan.

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To the press corps traveling with Anderson, he was known as Sancho, a nod to what reporters considered the candidate’s quixotic campaign.

Before joining the Kennedy administration, Mr. Mathews was a reporter and editor in Salt Lake City and San Francisco.