Obituary


Priscilla Hiss, wife of Alger Hiss
United Press International

NEW YORK--Priscilla Hiss, 81, who maintained that her husband, Alger Hiss, was innocent despite his 1950 conviction for lying to conceal Communist espionage, died Sunday in a Manhattan Hospital.

Mrs. Hiss, who had lived in Greenwich Village since 1947 and at the Village Nursing Home since 1982, died in St. Vincent's Hospital of complications resulting from a stroke she suffered four ears ago.

A memorial service was planned for today at Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Manhattan.

Mrs. Hiss maintained her husband's innocence at his two trials for perjury and in battles waged to clear his name in the years after the court proceedings. .

Hiss, a State Department official who assisted President Harry S. Truman [sic---should be Franklin D. Roosevelt] at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 was named by former Communist Party member Whittaker Chambers as a member of the party.

He was accused of stealing secret State Department documents in the 1930s and of transmitting them to Chambers.

Mrs. Hiss was a witness at both trials and denied prosecutors' contentions that she typed copies of those sensitive documents, given to Chambers in 1937 and early 1938.

Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 for telling a grand jury that he was not a spy for the Soviet Union. Hiss spent nearly two years in prison for the conviction. Two lower courts also turned down the appeals.

She was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Yale University.

She and Hiss were married in 1929. They separated in 1959 but did not divorce.

Mrs. Hiss is survived by her husband and two sons.


Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 1984
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Fall Colors at Bryn Mawr College: Senior row back to Pem Arch Photo by Kimberly Blessing

Priscilla Hiss, Who Defended Her Husband
WILLIAM G. BLAIR

Priscilla Hiss, the wife of Alger Hiss, who steadfastly defended her husband at his two trials for perjury, died Sunday at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in Manhattan. She was 81 years old on Saturday.

Mrs. Hiss had been ill since suffering a stroke in 1981. She had lived in Greenwich Village since 1947 and at the Village Nursing Home since 1982.

Mrs. Hiss was thrust into the limelight in 1948 when her husband, a former State Department official, was accused of being a spy by Whittaker Chambers, an admitted former courier for a Soviet spy ring. Thoroughout Mr. Hiss's two perjury trials in 1948 and 1949-50, and in the years that followed, she maintained her husband's innocence.

Denied Prosecution Cententions

His first trial ended in a hung jury, but Mr. Hiss was convicted of perjury at his second trial for denying to a grand jury that he had passed secret State Department documents to Mr. Chambers. He served 44 months in prison.

Mrs. Hiss testified at both trials. Her testimony centered on two key prosecution contentions: that she had typed on a family-owned Woodstock typewriter copies of the secret documents for transmission to Mr. Chambers in 1937 and early 1938, and that she had seen Mr. Chambers after Jan. 1, 1937. She firmly denied both contentions.

She and Mr. Hiss were married in 1929. They separated in 1959, but did not divorce.

Before the notoriety of the trials swept over her life, Mrs. Hiss worked as an office manager for Time magazine in New York City and taught English at the Potomac School in Washington and at the Dalton School in New York. She was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and rec eived a master's degree in English literature from Yale University.

After Mr. Hiss's conviction, she worked as an editor at several publishing houses in New York City, including the Golden Press, the children's book division of the Western Publishing Company.

Later, she became involved in Democratic politics, serving with Community Board 2 in Greenwich Village, the Village Independent Democrats and the Democratic County Committee of New York County.

Besides her husband, she is survived by a son, Tony Hiss, of New York, and a son by a previous marriage, Timothy Hobson of Gilette, Wyo.

A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and 10th Street.


New York Times, October 16, 1984

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