Franz F. Opper


Died March 8, 1991

College: Jonathan Edwards

Widow: Barbara Negri Opper
7004 Meadow Lane
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
301-657-2310 (Fax)

I have never laughed as much with anyone as I did with Franz, whose wit was spontaneous, brilliant and enduring. It, and he, matured after his college days when one of his greatest sources of pride was the speed with which he guzzled beer at Beta while he ‘studied physics’ by calculating distance and velocity at the billiards table. In his maturity he applied his wit, brilliance, uncanny memory and legal training to financial regulatory work on behalf of the public, first as an enforcement attorney at the SEC and then on the Hill by drafting legislation. He was instrumental in drafting the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, making the U.S. one of the first – perhaps the first – countries to find a way to make it illegal for corporations to bribe foreign officials. Following the rescission of the Glass Steagall Act in 1999, an old friend of Franz’ called me and said “this would never have happened if Franz were still active.”

In 1979, he contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.) This forced him to retire. and eventually live for many years physically only able to blink, but mentally as sharp as a tack. In 1989, he was in a special box at Yankee Stadium for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s final appearance there.

He was a loyal and helpful friend, frequently ready with limericks and baseball statistics. He was a loving father to his daughter Gretchen and son Stephen, whom he called his ‘little critters’. When they were young and we were carefree, he taught them about science, nature, literature and laughter, and later about courage and perseverance. It was always about integrity.

Franz and I were best friends who trusted each other completely. From the time we began dating in college, our relationship was full of love. We helped each other reach beyond what each might have realized alone.

—by Barbara Negri Opper (with summary of newspaper articles added)


Franz Frederick Opper, 51, who was counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1976 until 1981, when he retired for reasons of health, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis March 8 at Suburban Hospital.

Mr. Opper, who lived in Chevy Chase, was born in Fayetteville, Ark. He grew up in Torrington, Conn. He was a graduate of Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania law school.

He first moved to Washington in 1965 to serve as an attorney for the Comptroller of the Currency. From 1968 to 1972, be was an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Opper then moved to Hartford, where he was counsel to the Hartford National Corp. He returned here in 1976 to begin his career on Capitol Hill.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara Opper of, Chevy Chase; children, Gretchen and Stephen ‘Opper,’ also of Chevy Chase; his parents, Charlotte and Lincoln of Rockport, Maine; two brothers, William Opper of Wilton, Conn., and Thomas Opper of Liberty, Maine; and a sister, Carolyn Opper of New Haven, Conn.

The Washington Post March 9, 1991

Wasington Post article From Chevy Chase to Yankee Stadium, an Echo

Published: Sunday, July 18, 2010 The Register Citizen