Robert Strauss, a former chair of the Democratic Party and longtime fixture in American politics, has died, NBC News confirmed.
Strauss’ law firm announced his death in an email Wednesday. He was 95.
Strauss was born in 1918 in Texas, where he graduated from the University of Texas law school. He went on to serve as a special agent in the FBI and helped found a law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
He remained a figure in U.S. politics and diplomacy for decades and was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1973 to 1976. He was an integral part of President Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980, and served as the trade representative to the Middle East peace negotiations during the Carter administration.
Under President George H.W. Bush, Strauss was the final ambassador to the Soviet Union — and then the first envoy to the Russian Federation after the fall of communism.
Strauss advised political leaders on both sides of the aisle, including President Ronald Reagan. In a statement Wednesday evening, former First Lady Nancy Reagan said Strauss was one of her “closest friends.”
“People ask me how I could be acquainted with him since he was such a staunch Democrat. My answer was always quick and firm — it didn’t matter to him what political party I belonged to and it certainly didn’t matter to me which political convention he attended. He served this country with great distinction,” Reagan said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published March 19 2014, 5:54 PM