R. Lawrence Coughlin Jr., 72; Lawyer, Pennsylvania Congressman for 24 Years

From The Washington Post

R. Lawrence Coughlin Jr., a moderate Pennsylvania Republican who represented the wealthy Main Line area of suburban Philadelphia in the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993, has died. He was 72.

Coughlin died of cancer Nov. 30 at his weekend farm in Mathews, Va. He lived in Alexandria, Va.

A lawyer, Coughlin was known for championing urban and mass-transit issues nationwide. He served on the House Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations Committee, where he was the ranking Republican on the transportation subcommittee and the district subcommittee. He also was the ranking Republican on the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.

Coughlin did not seek reelection in 1992 and became senior counsel to Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Washington. In April, he joined the Washington office of the St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn law firm and concentrated on transportation and international commerce matters.


Robert Lawrence Coughlin Jr. was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and grew up on his father’s farm near Scranton, Pa.

Coughlin was a 1950 economics graduate of Yale University. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

He was a 1958 graduate of Temple University’s law school, where he attended classes at night while working as a foreman on a steel assembly line during the day.

Coughlin served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War and was aide-de-camp to Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller. Years later, in Congress, Coughlin chaired the Capitol Hill Marines, a group of congressmen who had been in the Marine Corps.


He was practicing law at a Philadelphia firm when he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1964 and to the state Senate in 1966.

Coughlin won his U.S. House seat in 1968 when Republican Richard Schweiker left to make a successful bid for the U.S. Senate.

He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Susan MacGregor Coughlin; children Lisa Coughlin Powell of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Lynne Coughlin Samson of Wayne, Pa., Sara Coughlin Noon of Bel Air, Md., and R. Lawrence Coughlin III of Seattle; and five grandchildren.