Paul F. Markham, Kennedy Friend at Chappaquiddick, Dies at 89


Numerous questions from that night — Had Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Kopechne become romantically involved? Did he really take a wrong turn, as he maintained? Did alcohol play a role? Why didn’t he report the accident? — remain unanswered. Now, with the four principals dead, the full story may never be known. (Senator Kennedy died in 2009, Mr. Gargan in 2017.)

In an interview with The New York Times 10 years after the incident, Mr. Kennedy said he had ordered Mr. Markham and Mr. Gargan not to go to the police “because I was the responsible person in the accident and I felt I should report it.” But he did not do so immediately, he long maintained, because he was too shocked and confused in the aftermath of such a traumatic event.

Paul Francis Markham was born in Lowell, Mass., on May 22, 1930, to James E. and Mary (Fitzgerald) Markham. His father, a lawyer, worked in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration overseeing seized assets in World War II. His mother, a former model for the Jordan Marsh department store, was a homemaker.

Paul grew up in Washington and attended Georgetown Preparatory School. He studied economics at Villanova University, dropped out to serve in the Coast Guard and then resumed his studies, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1955. He graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1958.

He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar that year and worked at a personal injury law firm before becoming an adviser to the Small Business Administration.

Mr. Markham was appointed assistant United States attorney in 1964 by Robert F. Kennedy, who was the attorney general at the time. Mr. Markham ascended to the top job of United States attorney in 1966 and remained there until 1969, when Richard M. Nixon became president. He resigned to work in private practice and retired in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Claire Markham; four daughters, Ellen, Jane and Susan Markham and Mary Soldati; two sons, Paul and John; and 10 grandchildren.

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