Former Governor Dies Late Saturday Evening in Little Rock Home

October 5, 2003 - Posted at: 12:33 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Sid McMath, a war hero, crusading prosecutor and popular governor of Arkansas by age 40, died at his home in Little Rock, the governor's office announced this morning.

McMath was released from the hospital Wednesday, after being examined for an irregular hearbeat.  His death was announced by the office of current Governor Mike Huckabee.

McMath's careers began with the military, moved to public service as a prosecutor and governor, and finished with a decades-long law practice in Little Rock.

After two terms as governor, McMath spent more than 50 years living down claims of corruption in his administration, which derailed the career of a political prodigy who seemed destined for national office.

In his book, "Promises Kept," released this year, McMath chronicled a dozen years of public service that began with World War II gallantry in the South Pacific and ended in 1952 with his defeat for a third term as governor in the throws of a highway spending scandal that he insisted was politically motivated.

In 1979 and 1999, McMath ranked fourth in polls ranking the top Arkansas governors of the 20th century.  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock surveyed Arkansas historians, political scientists, journalists and others.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.