Charles Grandison "Charlie" Rose III(1939 - 2012)

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Rose, who used his seat on the House Agriculture Committee to aid farmers and protect the tobacco crops that brought wealth to farmers in his North Carolina district, has died, his wife said Tuesday.

Rose, 73, died of Parkinson's disease at a hospital near their northern Alabama home, said his wife Stacye Hefner. Rose was diagnosed with the degenerative brain disorder last year, Hefner said.

Rose, a Democrat, spent 24 years in Washington representing the 7th Congressional District, which included his hometown of Fayetteville and much of North Carolina's southeastern region. Elected in 1972, the attorney and former prosecutor became one of the most powerful lawmakers in Congress and used his seat on the House Agriculture Committee to back the interests of farmers, especially tobacco growers back home.

Rose's successor in the 7th District was his former intern, Democrat Mike McIntyre, who is seeking re-election this November.

As chairman in the early 1990s of the House Administration Committee - which oversees office space, security, and lawmaker expenses - Rose was nicknamed the "mayor of the Capitol" and was said to be looking for an opening to run for speaker of the House.

But the Washington dealmaker found himself in the House minority for the first time in his career when Republicans led by soon-to-be House Speaker Newt Gingrich won broad gains in the 1994 elections. Rose said the election resulted in a Congress full of "ideologues unwilling to compromise," adding that they "over-promised or narrowly dedicated themselves to solving one or two issues."

Rose announced his retirement in 1996 and started lobbying Washington with his third wife, the daughter of longtime Rep. Bill Hefner, D-N.C. Hefner, who represented the 8th District for 24 years, retired two years later.

"They had served together" for years, Stacye Hefner said. "They were really, really best buddies."

Rose and his wife moved to Albertville, Ala., to be near Ms. Hefner's mother after former Rep. Hefner died in 2009. The elder Hefners had returned to the community where they grew up and still had extended family, Stacye Hefner said. The Roses largely gave up their lobbying work with the move.

- Associated Press story and photo

Published in Charlotte Observer from Sept. 5 to Oct. 3, 2012