Nov. 27 (UPI) -- William Ruckelshaus, the two-time head of the Environmental Protection Agency whom President Richard Nixon fired in the so-called Saturday Night Massacre, died Wednesday at his home in Washington, his family said. He was 87.
Ruckelshaus was born July 24, 1932, in Indianapolis. He received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard. He also served two years in the U.S. Army.
He started his career in his family's law firm in Indianapolis, where he developed an interest in environmental law. Nixon named Ruckelshaus as the administrator of the newly formed EPA in 1970, where he served until 1973, when the president made him deputy attorney general.
He served in that role until Oct. 20, 1973, when Nixon fired him for refusing to fire Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. The president also fired Attorney General Elliot Richardson that day for the same reason. The exodus later came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre and led to the end of Nixon's presidency.
Ultimately, Solicitor General Robert Bork acquiesced to Nixon's demands that Cox be fired. A federal judge later deemed Cox's ouster to be illegal.
Ruckelshaus came to be known for his uncompromising integrity, which is why President Ronald Reagan later tapped him to return to the EPA and overhaul the agency amid drooping morale and allegations of misspending funds. He headed the agency under Reagan for two years
Ruckelshaus is survived by his second wife, Jill Strickland; his children, Catherine Ruckelshaus, Mary Ruckelshaus, Jennifer Ruckelshaus, William Ruckelshaus and Robin Kellogg; 12 grandchildren; and sister Marion Ruckelshaus Bitzer.