March 20, 2010 / 7:17 PM / 9 years ago

Stewart Udall, interior secretary in '60s, dies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stewart Udall, interior secretary for presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and a member of a major Democratic political family, has died at age 90, his family said on Saturday.

Udall, father of New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and brother of the late congressman and one-time presidential contender Morris Udall, was the last surviving member of Kennedy’s original Cabinet.

A leading environmentalist, Udall played key roles in passing the Wilderness Act that created a system of protecting lands mostly in the West, expanding river and shore protections, establishing new wildlife refuges and adding four parks to the National Park System.

Born in Arizona, Udall was an Air Force gunner in Europe during World War Two, was elected to four terms in the Congress, then served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations during the 1960s.

Udall was the lead lawyer for a group of Navajo Indians who were some of the country’s earliest uranium miners and were not warned of the dangers from exposure. He also represented people living downwind of atmospheric nuclear bomb testing and workers from the Nevada Test Site.

Udall, who remained a vigorous environmental advocate after his retirement, died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his family said.

Reporting by Vicki Allen, editing by Eric Beech

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