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Christian Herter Jr., legislator, Bay State scion

Christian A. Herter Jr., 88, a former Massachusetts state legislator who briefly sought the GOP nomination for governor in 1958 before losing the general election race for state attorney general, died Sept. 16 at his home in Washington. He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Washington Post.

Mr. Herter was the son and namesake of the Bay State governor from 1953 to 1956 and US secretary of state from 1959 to 1961. His father, also a Republican, had previously served in the US House, representing the South Shore and Cape Cod before becoming governor.

Mr. Herter was elected to the State House and served his hometown of West Newton, beginning in 1951. He won reelection in 1952 - the same year his father was first elected governor - but resigned early in his second term.

"I found it difficult to represent Newton," he told the Globe, "while I was almost unanimously regarded as spokesman for my father."

He shifted his focus to Washington, working first as a top administrative assistant to Vice President Richard M. Nixon and then as general counsel to the Foreign Operations Administration, an overseas aid program then led by perennial presidential candidate Harold E. Stassen.

Mr. Herter returned to the Bay State In the mid-1950s and became a member of the Governor's Council.

Believing the Democratic leadership at the State House had ignored development and turned the state into an economic shell, he decided to run against Governor Foster Furcolo, a Democrat. He failed to win the support of the GOP convention in the summer, however, and withdrew to support the nominee, Attorney General George Fingold.

The party backed Mr. Herter to run for attorney general. He lost the general election to Democrat Edward J. McCormack.

In the early 1960s, he decided to give up politics and moved to New York to become an executive with Mobil Oil. He eventually settled in the Washington area. Although he never again ran for office, he served in several government roles, from running an anti-poverty program for Mayor John V. Lindsay in New York City in the 1960s to working as deputy US commissioner on the International Whaling Commission in the 1980s.

Also, Mr. Herter taught international environmental law at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies for two decades, retiring in the early 2000s.

Christian Archibald Herter Jr. was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., grew up in Massachusetts, and attended St. Paul's in Concord, N.H.

His father, in addition to his other elected and appointed posts, was the nation's first trade representative, serving until his death in 1966. On his mother's side, the youth descended from Charles A. Pratt, a partner in Standard Oil of New Jersey and founder of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Mr. Herter was a 1941 graduate of Harvard University and enlisted in the Army before Pearl Harbor was attacked. He served in Europe as an intelligence officer with the 14th Armored Division and was wounded by artillery shrapnel. In addition to his Purple Heart, he was awarded a Bronze Star and Croix de Guerre and left the service as a major.

He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1948 and eventually joined the Boston law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould, where he became an authority on helping US companies trying to expand into the international market.

After moving to Washington, Mr. Herter worked for the State Department in the 1970s and among other duties chaired conferences on endangered species and the law of the seas. He also chaired a commission to monitor Canadian-US international boundary waters.

His memberships included the Council on Foreign Relations, the Metropolitan Club, the Cosmos Club and the Chevy Chase Club.

His marriages to Suzanne Clery Herter and Susan Cable Herter ended in divorce.

Mr. Herter leaves his wife of 21 years, Catherine Hooker Herter of Washington; three children from his first marriage, Jamison H. Cherington of Calais, Vt., Christian A. III of Freeport, Maine, and Geoffrey E. of Essex, Conn.; four stepchildren, Mark Cameron of Providence, Anne Cameron of Bridgewater, Conn., Juan Cameron of Washington, and Elizabeth Cameron of Larchmont, N.Y.; two brothers; a sister; 16 grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

Material from the Washington Post was used in this obituary.

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