WARRENTON, Va. — John Erlenborn, the former Illinois congressman who became known as "Mr. ERISA," died Oct. 30. He was 78.
Mr. Erlenborn died at his home in Warrenton of complications related to a neurological disorder known as Lewy body disease, according to his son, David.
He was a Republican U.S. Representative from west suburban Chicago from 1965 to 1985, during which time he helped pass the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. He will forever be associated with passage of the 1974 legislation, along with former Rep. John Dent, D-Pa., and Sen. Jacob Javits, R-N.Y.
During his time in Congress, Mr. Erlenborn was a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, as well as its subcommittee on Labor-Management. Along with Mr. Dent on the House General Subcommittee on Labor, Mr. Erlenborn pushed in the early 1970s to create the House Pension Task Force. Throughout his time on Capitol Hill, Mr. Erlenborn worked on a bipartisan basis for pension legislation.
He "had an intense interest in the pension and benefit system that was virtually unequaled," said Mark J. Ugoretz, president of the Washington-based ERISA Industry Committee. "His desire to make sure ERISA worked was unwavering" and the 30 years of success under ERISA "is one of his great monuments," Mr. Ugoretz said.
Mr. Erlenborn understood the legislation "as well as or better" than anyone in Washington, according to Mr. Ugoretz, who noted Mr. Erlenborn "stayed extremely active" with regard to pension issues in the years after he retired from Congress.
"John Erlenborn is one of the reasons I've spent as much time over the years on ERISA as I have," Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said in a statement. "When I was a new congressman on the old Education and Labor Committee, John came into my office and urged me to take an active role in ERISA policy.
"Our challenge moving forward is to ensure ERISA stays as strong in the 21st century as he envisioned it when he helped to craft it decades ago."