James Edwin Hinish Jr., 77, longtime legislative assistant on Capitol Hill

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james hinishMr. James Edwin Hinish, Jr. passed away peacefully on January 5, 2016.

Jim was born on May 23, 1938 in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He was the only son of James E. Hinish, a small businessman in the gas station business (Marquis-Hinish Oil Co.), and Helen Sonneborn Hinish, a Latin teacher in New Castle public schools and later librarian at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.

Jim Sr. ran for state legislator and lost the election the week Jim Jr. was born. The New Castle News ran the headline: “Hinish loses race, gains son.”

Because he excelled in New Castle’s public schools, Jim’s parents bestowed on him the best education available in America. Jim attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts (1956-60) and Yale University (1956-60), where he majored in the Russian Studies honors program. He also starred in several prep school and college dramatic productions.

Like his father, Jim developed an early interest in GOPolitics. In his junior year at Yale, he was elected chairman of the Party of the Right in the Yale Political Union, and he headed “Elis for Nixon” in his senior year (when the Republican presidential candidate beat JFK by 4:1 on campus).

As a senior in Timothy Dwight College, Jim was selected by the master to reside in the Chubb fellow suite, where he hosted such well-known personalities as former President Harry Truman, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, playwright Moss Hart and his actress wife Kitty Carlisle.

Upon graduation, Jim went to work in New York City at the international division of Manufacturers Hanover Bank, from 1961 to 1965. His banking internship was interrupted by a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, during which, being fluent in German, he was stationed in West Berlin in military intelligence. In 1965, he earned a scholarship to attend law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder, earning his J.D. in 1968.

He then landed a position in Seattle, Washington (1968-70) as an assistant to the vice president of corporate engineering at King Broadcasting Company, which operated radio and TV stations in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1970, he moved to North Miami, Florida, to be staff attorney at Storer Broadcasting Company, a major national telecommunications company, where he negotiated and drafted labor union contracts. In 1973, Jim moved to Washington, D.C. as an attorney in the Broadcast Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission.

By 1975, Jim had moved up to Capitol Hill, where he spent the next 20 years as a legislative assistant to 10 Republican Members of Congress, including former Senators Edward Gurney (the first GOP Senator from Florida), Roman Hruska of Nebraska, Paul Fannin of Arizona, former astronaut Harrison Schmitt of New Mexico, and John Tower of Texas. During this period, Jim served as minority counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee (twice) and on the Labor and Human resources Committee.

For seven years Jim was Counsel on the Senate Republican Policy Committee under chairman Senator John Tower during which he drafted portions of the national Republican Party platform upon which Ronald Reagan ran and was elected president in 1960.

Jim later joined the Reagan-Bush administration (1962-64) as counsel and executive at the Departments of Education (under Secretary Terrell Bell) and Labor (under then Secretary Elizabeth Dole). Jim retired from government at age 55 in 1993 while serving as Labor Committee counsel to former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana.

Upon retirement, Jim sold his home in northern Virginia and in 1994 moved himself and his aging mother from Pennsylvania to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they resided in Kingsmill. He took care of his mother until her death from Alzheimer’s in 2005. He then sold his house in Kingsmill and moved into a new home in Colonial Heritage.

For nine years, from 1994 to 2003, Jim taught a seminar on legislative process in the School of Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach. Each year, Jim accompanied his graduate students on trips he arranged which included one-day visits to Richmond to watch the Virginia General Assembly and meet state legislators and two day visits to Washington, D.C. to tour the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and to meet and hear speakers including Members of Congress, congressional staffers, federal officials, think tank scholars, university professors, and journalists.

Jim has been an active member of a Men’s Bible Study Group in the Williamsburg Community Chapel; founder-president of the Ronald Reagan Club; program chairman of the Colonial Area Republican Men’s Association (2006-7); member, James City County Republican Committee; Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg; the Philadelphia Society; and the Federalist Society; president of the Williamsburg Symphonia League; and alumni representative for Andover and Yale.

He constructed crossword puzzles for the New York Times, Simon & Schuster books and several daily newspaper syndicates. He traveled frequently with friends and mentees to England, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy; cruised to Alaska and Hawaii; toured central Europe; and visited friends in DC, the Northeast, Colorado, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Every summer he has driven with friends and mentees to Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario for theatre; to the Chautauqua Institution in western New York for cultural events; and the Tanglewood music festival in the Berkshires for concerts and picnics on the lawn.

In 2008, Jim was elected to the Andover Alumni Council for a four-year term, and served on a mentoring committee at his alma mater prep school. In 2009, Jim sponsored a pops concert of classic film music performed by the Williamsburg Symphonia, designed to attract more young people to enjoy good music.

Most importantly, having spent much of his life in politics, Jim valued the time he spent mentoring high school, undergraduate and graduate students at the College of William & Mary and Regent University, lawyers, teachers, think tank scholars, and other young professionals who are conservative and interested in government and politics.

Graveside services will be held at Castle View Memorial Park in New Castle, P.A. on date to be determined.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Amory Funeral Home.

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