Tom Bevill, 84; Congressman Called the ‘King of Pork’
Tom Bevill, 84, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama who became known as the “King of Pork” for his ability to secure federally funded public works projects for his constituents, died Monday in Jasper, Ala. He had been in declining health since undergoing triple-bypass heart surgery last summer.
Bevill served 15 two-year terms in the House of Representatives, from 1967 to 1997, and was chairman of the powerful House Energy Development and Water Appropriations Subcommittee for 18 years. From that perch, he was able to deliver plenty of “pork” to Alabama, including the $2-billion Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which he hoped would make Mobile a major shipping center.
Brought up in the mining community of Townley during the Depression, Bevill saw firsthand President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs at work and was inspired to help people through his own public service. He became a staunch supporter of the Tennessee Valley Authority and President Johnson’s “Great Society” Appalachian Regional Commission.
Bevill was an Army captain in World War II, earned bachelor’s and law degrees at the University of Alabama and then practiced law. He served eight years in the state Legislature before running for Congress.