J. William Middendorf

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J. William Middendorf II
John William Middendorf (1969).jpg
John William Middendorf (1969)
United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
April 8, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Preceded by John Warner
Succeeded by W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1924-09-22) September 22, 1924 (age 90)
Baltimore, Maryland
Political party Republican
Alma mater College of the Holy Cross
Harvard College
Occupation diplomat

John William Middendorf II (born September 22, 1924) is a former Republican United States diplomat and Secretary of the Navy.


John William Middendorf II received a Bachelor of Naval Science degree from College of the Holy Cross in 1945. In World War II he served in the Navy (1944-1946) as engineer officer and navigator aboard USS LCS(L) 53, being mustered out in 1946.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1947, where he was a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Owl Club. He also graduated from New York University's Graduate School of Business Administration, receiving an M.B.A. in 1954.

He became an investment banker and in 1963 in partnership with Austen Colgate formed his own company, Middendorf, Colgate and Company (with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange).

An early member of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, he served as treasurer of that campaign, and continued to have the same duties with the Republican National Committee from 1965–1969, when Richard Nixon appointed him ambassador to the Netherlands, where he served until 1973.

After returning to the U.S., he became, despite opposition from James Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense,[1] the Under Secretary, then Secretary of the Navy from 1974–1977, and was President and Chief Executive Officer of Financial General Bankshares from 1977-1981. In 1981 he was named Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

During his time as the Secretary of the Navy, he oversaw the creation of the Marine Corps Marathon, and the trophy for the winner is named in his honor. He was one of the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In 2006 Middendorf published a book describing his work with the Goldwater campaign. Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement details how Goldwater's campaign became the foundation of the modern Conservative movement. In 2011 he published his autobiography, Potomac Fever. He is a member of the board of trustees for the Heritage Foundation, an influential Washington, D.C.-based public policy research institute.[2]

He is a prolific composer of symphonies (including Holland Symphony, presented to Dutch Queen Juliana on the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne) and 100 marches.

Ambassador Middendorf is a member of the board of directors of the International Republican Institute.[3] He is also a member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the Revolution and the Naval Order of the United States.

Honors and awards[edit]

Middendorf has received the "Edwin Franko Goldman Award" from the American Bandmasters Association and is a member of the American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP). Other honors include:

  • Hudson River Museum Honoree, Hudson River Museum, 2009
  • Maritime Security Lifetime Excellence Award, 2002
  • Arleigh Burke Award – Navy League of the United States, 1998
  • Superior Honor Award, U.S. Department of State, 1974
  • Distinguished Public Service Award, awarded by U.S. Department of Defense, 1975; second award (palm) 1976
  • Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, 1976
  • Ludwig von Mises Free Market Award – 1985
  • Distinguished Service Award, Purdue University Band
  • Gold Medal, The Netherlands Society of the Sons of American Revolution
  • Medal of Honor, Midwest National Band and Orchestra Association
  • Alumnus of the Year, New York University Graduate School of Business
  • Association of Harvard Clubs of American Award (Music) (Keogh Award)
  • NYU Eugene Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service (1989)
  • American Friends of Turkey Leadership Award, 1989
  • Presidential Physical Fitness Award, 1990
  • Distinguished Patriot Award, SAR of State of New York, 1975
  • Award of Merit, Art League of Virginia (Portrait of Del), 1996
  • U.S. Olympic Committee Gold Shield Award
  • Gold Medal, Holland Society of New York, 1996
  • American Bandmasters Association Edwin Franko Goldman Award
  • American Music Award, Harvard Clubs

Honorary degrees[edit]

Foreign decorations[edit]

Grand Master in Order of Orange-Nassau, The Netherlands, 1985


  • J. William Middendorf II (October 23, 2006). A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04573-0. 


  1. ^ Woodward and Bernstein, The Final Days, p. 189 (New York: Avon Books, 1976)
  2. ^ Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees, heritage.org
  3. ^ International Republican Institute web site, accessed July 16, 2010.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Frank P. Sanders
Under Secretary of the Navy
August 3, 1973 – June 20, 1974
Succeeded by
David S. Potter
Preceded by
John Warner
United States Secretary of the Navy
April 8, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Succeeded by
W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George S. Vest
United States Ambassador to the European Union
1985 – 1987
Succeeded by
Alfred H. Kingon