ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 3 (UPI) -- Robert Warner, credited with turning the U.S. National Archives into a politically independent agency, has died at 79.
Warner, who suffered from cancer, had a fatal heart attack April 24 at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., his son, Mark told The New York Times.
Warner, who served as archive director from 1980 to 1985, worked quietly to put together a coalition of lawmakers and others in support of moving the National Archives from the General Services Administration, said Allen Weinstein, the current archivist.
"He was an informal but passionate advocate for the independence of the archives," Weinstein told the Times.
Warner retired two weeks after the archives became a separate government agency, making it independent of the president. Under the GSA, one of Weinstein's predecessors had allowed President Richard Nixon access to files on his administration.
Warner also convinced Congress not to subpoena him to testify on the nomination of Alexander Haig as President Ronald Reagan's secretary of state.
Before becoming archivist, Warner headed the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. He returned there to serve as dean of the School of Library Science.