His daughter, Janice Jenkins, said early Monday that the former congressman died at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
Jenkins was elected to Congress in 1976, the same year that another Georgian, Jimmy Carter, was elected president. He served on the House Budget and Ways and Means committees.
An attorney, Jenkins served in the Coast Guard, as an aide to his predecessor Phil Landrum and as a prosecutor before being elected to Congress. The Almanac of American Politics described him in 1990 as “one of the smartest operators on Capitol Hill.” The publication praised his dispassionate questioning of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings and cited his efforts to protect the textile industry.
“He was unique and one of a kind,” his daughter said.
After retiring from Congress, Jenkins remained active in church and civic affairs and served on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He would have turned 79 on Wednesday.
“He’ll be missed by a lot of people,” Janice Jenkins said. “He always believed in second chances. He helped a lot of people.”
In addition to his daughter Janice, Jenkins is survived by his wife Jo, a daughter Amy and two grandsons.