Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served Republican administrations from Eisenhower to Reagan and helped hasten the end of the Cold War, died Saturday at his Stanford campus home at the age of 100.
Though born in New York City in 1920 and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, Shultz forged deep ties to the Bay Area through Stanford University, where he was a fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor emeritus at its Graduate School of Business.
“Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word,” said Hoover Institution director and another former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, in a statement. “He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.”
Shultz was one of only two Americans to hold four separate cabinet posts: state, treasury, labor and office of management and budget. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics in 1942, served in the Marine Corps during WWII, then resumed his studies, graduating from MIT with a Ph.D. in industrial economics in 1949.
He went on to serve as a senior staff economist on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s council of economic advisors and, later, served as President Richard Nixon’s labor secretary and treasury secretary.
It was as Reagan’s top diplomat from 1982 to 1989 that Shultz became a household name. He helped shape the U.S. foreign policy that helped bring the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Shultz began his association with Stanford in 1968, doing a yearlong fellowship at the university’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, according to Stanford News Service. He returned to teach at the business school between the Nixon and Reagan administrations before beginning his long relationship with the conservative Hoover Institution during the 1990s.
In a statement to reporters over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Shultz “an extraordinary statesman, public servant and friend.”
“Over decades of public service in the highest levels of government, Secretary Shultz significantly shaped America’s foreign policy and worked for change at home, too,” Newsom said. “He operated with a commitment to tending relationships and building trust across every conceivable divide that we should all strive to emulate.”
“Our state is fortunate that Secretary Shultz headed west later in his career, bringing his wisdom and insight to advising Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, roles at the Hoover Institution and more.”
S.F. Mayor London Breed said Schultz made a “tremendous impact” on her city.
“He was well-known for his accomplishments on the world stage, but it’s important to remember that he was a fierce advocate for what many of us consider ‘San Francisco values,’ including the value of a high-quality public education, the value of accessible health care for all, and the value of mutual respect and dignity for people from all walks of life,” Breed said, in a statement. “In recent years, we were fortunate that he used his role as a respected statesman to serve as a bridge builder between other countries and our city, and his international work on nuclear deterrence was truly about leaving the world in a better place. He was a giant in our community and my condolences go out to his wife, Charlotte, and all of his family and friends.”
In 2001, Shultz was named the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow of the Hoover Institution. He authored many books and won countless awards over his career, including the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1989.
His most recent initiative at Stanford was “Governance in an Emerging New World,” concerning Shultz’s penchant for open discussion on how government, institutions and society can best respond to rapid changes.
In November 2020—the month before his 100th birthday—he co-authored A Hinge of History: Governance in an Emerging New World, offering key insights from the multiyear series of roundtables and other contributions.
Shultz is survived by his wife, Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, his five children, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.