September 17, 2011 / 4:22 PM / 6 years ago

Former Senator Charles Percy, a liberal Republican, dies

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former Senator Charles Percy of Illinois, a leading moderate Republican voice during the Vietnam and Watergate years, died on Saturday, his daughter's office said.

Percy, 91, who served in the Senate from 1966 to 1984, opposed the Vietnam war and sponsored a resolution calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Watergate scandal during the administration of Richard Nixon, a Republican.

Percy died at a hospice in Washington, D.C., said a spokeswoman at WETA, a public broadcasting station in Washington where his daughter, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, is president and CEO.

She is the wife of U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller of West Virginia, and disclosed in early 2009 that her father was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Before being elected to the Senate, Percy was a businessman who became chief executive of camera and projector maker Bell & Howell Corp.

In the Senate, he staked out positions that were generally pro-business, but also liberal on social programs and skeptical of military spending.

With his good looks and elegant manner, Percy was seen as a political star and had ambitions to run for president in 1976. However he ended up supporting Gerald Ford and then lost his Senate re-election bid in 1984.

He was a Christian Scientist who shunned alcohol and tobacco.

In 1966 during his Senate campaign, Percy's daughter Valerie, 21, was beaten and stabbed to death in her bed by a house invader. The case, which made national headlines, was never solved.

Reporting by Matthew Lewis; Editing by Vicki Allen

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