STANFORD (CBS SF/AP) — George Shultz, a career diplomat who held four Cabinet-level posts and a long-time San Francisco society figure along with his wife, Charlotte Mailliard, has died at his Stanford home at the age of 100.
Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where Shultz was affiliated with after stepping down as secretary of state in 1989, announced the death.READ MORE: Bay Area Health Expert Hails Potential of Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine in Pandemic Battle
“Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word,” He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.” Condoleezza Rice, a fellow former Secretary of State and current director of the Hoover Institution, said in the release.
Mayor London Breed said Shultz embodied “San Francisco values.”
“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Secretary George Shultz, who left a tremendous impact on our city and our country,” Breed said. “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 healthcare for all, and the value of mutual respect and dignity for people from all walks of life.”
“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.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Shultz “powerful legacy for generations to come.”
“The world has lost a revered statesman and brilliant public servant with the passing of Secretary George Schultz,” she said in a statement. “George Schultz dedicated his life to promoting a more peaceful and secure future, and his work to advance democracy worldwide leaves a powerful legacy for generations to come.”
“George and Charlotte have been a respected force for good in our community and country, and he will be greatly missed by many,” Pelosi added. “May it be a comfort to Charlotte, his five children and the entire Schultz family that people the world over mourn with and pray for them during this sad time.”
Shultz recently celebrated his 100 birthday virtually where distinguished guests from all over the world came together to celebrate his singular legacy and lasting impact.
A lifelong Republican, Shultz held three major Cabinet positions in GOP administrations during a lengthy career of public service.
He was labor secretary, treasury secretary and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard M. Nixon before spending more than six years as President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state.
Schultz was the longest serving secretary of state since World War II and had been the oldest surviving former Cabinet member of any administration.
Over his lifetime, Shultz succeeded in just about everything he touched, including academics, teaching, government service and the corporate world and was widely respected by his peers from both political parties.
After the October 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 soldiers, Shultz worked tirelessly to end Lebanon’s brutal civil war in the 1980s. He spent countless hours of shuttle diplomacy between Mideast capitals trying to secure the withdrawal of Israeli forces there.
The experience led him to believe that stability in the region could only be assured with a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he set about on an ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful mission to bring the parties to the negotiating table.
Although Shultz fell short of his goal to put the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel on a course to a peace agreement, he shaped the path for future administrations’ Mideast efforts by legitimizing the Palestinians as a people with valid aspirations and a valid stake in determining their future.
As the nation’s chief diplomat, Shultz negotiated the first-ever treaty to reduce the size of the Soviet Union’s ground-based nuclear arsenals despite fierce objections from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Reagan’s “Strategic Defense Initiative” or Star Wars.
The 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a historic attempt to begin to reverse the nuclear arms race, a goal he never abandoned in private life.READ MORE: High School Girl Sues San Mateo County, State of California to Allow Indoor Youth Sports
“Now that we know so much about these weapons and their power,” Shultz said in an interview in 2008, “they’re almost weapons that we wouldn’t use, so I think we would be better off without them.”
Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, reflecting in his memoirs on the “highly analytic, calm and unselfish Shultz,” paid Shultz an exceptional compliment in his diary: “If I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz.”
George Pratt Shultz was born Dec. 13, 1920, in New York City and raised in Englewood, New Jersey. He studied economics and public and international affairs at Princeton University, graduating in 1942. His affinity for Princeton prompted him to have the school’s mascot, a tiger, tattooed on his posterior, a fact confirmed to reporters decades later by his wife aboard a plane taking them to China.
At Shultz’s 90th birthday party, his successor as secretary of state, James Baker, joked that he would do anything for Shultz “except kiss the tiger.” After Princeton, Shultz joined the Marine Corps and rose to the rank of captain as an artillery officer during World War II.
He earned a Ph.D. in economics at MIT in 1949 and taught at MIT and at the University of Chicago, where he was dean of the business school. His administration experience included a stint as a senior staff economist with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers and as Nixon’s OMB director.
Shultz was president of the construction and engineering company Bechtel Group from 1975-1982 and taught part-time at Stanford University before joining the Reagan administration in 1982, replacing Alexander Haig, who resigned after frequent clashes with other members of the administration.
A rare public disagreement between Reagan and Shultz came in 1985 when the president ordered thousands of government employees with access to highly classified information to take a “lie detector” test as a way to plug leaks of information. Shultz told reporters, “The minute in this government that I am not trusted is the day that I leave.” The administration soon backed off the demand.
A year later, Shultz submitted to a government-wide drug test considered far more reliable.
A more serious disagreement was over the secret arms sales to Iran in 1985 in hopes of securing the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by Hezbollah militants. Although Shultz objected, Reagan went ahead with the deal and millions of dollars from Iran went to right-wing Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua. The ensuing Iran-Contra scandal swamped the administration, to Shultz’s dismay.
In 1986 testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he lamented that “nothing ever gets settled in this town. It’s not like running a company or even a university. It’s a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up, including me, and that’s the atmosphere in which you administer.″
After Reagan left office, Shultz returned to Bechtel, having been the longest serving secretary of state since Cordell Hull under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He retired from Bechtel’s board in 2006 and returned to Stanford and the Hoover Institution.
In 2000, he became an early supporter of the presidential candidacy of George W. Bush, whose father had been vice president while Shultz was secretary of state. Schultz served as an informal adviser to the campaign.
Shultz remained an ardent arms control advocate in his later years but retained an iconoclastic streak, speaking out against several mainstream Republican policy positions. He created some controversy by calling the war on recreational drugs, championed by Reagan, a failure and raised eyebrows by decrying the longstanding U.S. embargo on Cuba as “insane.”
He was also a prominent proponent of efforts to fight the effects of climate change, warning that ignoring the risks was suicidal.
A pragmatist, Shultz, along with former GOP Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, made headlines during the 2016 presidential campaign when he declined to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump after being quoted as saying “God help us” when asked about the possibility of Trump in the White House.
Shultz was married to Helena “Obie” O’Brien, an Army nurse he met in the Pacific in World War II, and they had five children. After her death, in 1995, he married Charlotte Maillard, San Francisco’s protocol chief, in 1997.
Shultz was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1989.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, the longtime chief of protocol for the city of San Francisco. His five children, Margaret Ann Tilsworth, Kathlee Pratt Shultz Jorgensen, Peter Milton Shultz, Barbara Lennox Shultz White, and Alexander George Shultz; eleven grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.MORE NEWS: Longtime San Francisco Merchants Lament Recent Spike in Burglaries
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.