George P. Shultz, Influential Cabinet Official Under Nixon and Reagan, Dies at 100



Throughout his years in power in Washington, Mr. Shultz tried to keep one secret out of print: that he had a tiger tattoo on his posterior, a legacy of his undergraduate days at Princeton University. When queried about the tattoo, Phyllis Oakley, a State Department spokeswoman at the time, replied, “I am not in a position to comment.”

George Pratt Shultz was born in Manhattan on Dec. 13, 1920, the only child of the former Margaret Lennox Pratt and Birl E. Shultz, an official with the New York Stock Exchange. He grew up in Englewood, N.J., and entered Princeton in the fall of 1938.

In his senior year in 1941, he was majoring in economics when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. He joined the Marines after graduation and saw combat in the Pacific. He joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after earning his doctorate in industrial relations there in 1949. His field was labor economics.

In 1955, he took a year’s leave to serve as a senior staff member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers, under its chairman, Arthur F. Burns, who later led the Federal Reserve Board.

Starting in 1957, Mr. Shultz taught at the University of Chicago, where he was dean of its business school from 1962 to 1968. That year he took a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a wooded retreat for academics in Stanford. He returned to Stanford after leaving public office and receiving in 1989 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Over the next three decades he wrote for academic journals and op-ed pages. His most recent book, published in 2019, was “Thinking About the Future,” a collection of his thoughts on the world’s most pressing problems.

Mr. Shultz was a Marine when he met his future wife of nearly 50 years, Helena M. O’Brien, known as Obie. He was on a rest-and-recreation trip to Kauai, Hawaii, where she was an Army nurse. She died in 1995.

In 1997, he married Charlotte Smith Mailliard Swig, San Francisco’s chief of protocol.The high-society ceremony was held in the city’s Grace Cathedral. He wore black tie with red, white and blue studs of rubies, diamonds and sapphire, and sported a tiger orchid boutonniere.


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