Tim Babcock, a former governor of Montana who took office when his predecessor was killed in an airplane crash and who was later involved in an illegal financial scheme to help President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election, died on Tuesday in Helena, the state’s capital. He was 95.
Chris Shipp, executive director of the state’s Republican Party, confirmed the death.
Mr. Babcock was lieutenant governor when Gov. Donald G. Nutter, 46, and five others died in the crash of a twin-engine C-47 in mountainous timberland north of Helena on Jan. 25, 1962. The state’s agriculture commissioner and the governor’s executive secretary were among the dead.
Mr. Babcock, a Republican, narrowly won election in 1964 before losing four years later to Forrest Anderson, a Democrat.
After leaving the governor’s office in 1969, Mr. Babcock worked for the wealthy businessman Armand Hammer as a vice president at a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. He later got caught up in a campaign finance scheme linked to Mr. Hammer and Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972.
Mr. Babcock pleaded guilty in 1974 to concealing the source of a $54,000 contribution to Nixon. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four months in jail. The jail term was later set aside. President George Bush pardoned Mr. Hammer in 1989.
Mr. Babcock had served three terms in the state’s House of Representatives before being elected lieutenant governor in 1960. His wife, the former Betty Lee, also a state legislator, helped write the Montana Constitution. She died in 2013. Republican stalwarts, they attended every Republican National Convention for 60 years.
Mr. Babcock was born in Littlefork, Minn., on Oct. 27, 1919. A high school graduate, he served in the Army infantry in World War II. His survivors include a daughter, Lorna. Another daughter, Maria, died before him.
Mr. Babcock later started a mining industry consulting firm, owned a hotel in Washington State and operated a cattle ranch in Wolf Creek, Mont.
He often said he was the only Montana governor to take the oath of office with tears in his eyes, The Billings Gazette, a Montana newspaper, said in its obituary. Mr. Nutter had been a close friend.
|My aunts Charlotte (left) and Margaret |
(right),Winnepeg, Manitoba, circa 1930.
My Aunt Charlotte Foster Von Alman (author of the family history that has turned up in many of my Bathgate posts) taught Tim Babcock -- in the second grade if my memory serves me right. She married her husband Roy in Glendive, Montana (pop. 4,935), and moved by 1930 to Littlefork, Minnesota (pop. 643), reversing the course of Governor Babcock's odyssey. May Tim Babcock, along with his wife, and my aunt Charlotte, rest peacefully and eternally. God bless.