Robert D. Nesen

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Robert D. Nesen
United States Ambassador to Australia
In office
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Philip H. Alston
Succeeded by Laurence W. Lane
Personal details
Born (1918-01-22)January 22, 1918
St. Louis, Michigan
Died November 14, 2005(2005-11-14) (aged 87)
Thousand Oaks, California
Political party Republican

Robert Dean Nesen (1918–2005) was an American car dealer who served as United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) from 1972 to 1974 and as United States Ambassador to Australia from 1981 to 1985.


Robert D. Nesen was born January 22, 1918 in St. Louis, Michigan. He was educated at Tri-State College and the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute, receiving a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 1941. He worked for the Air-Research Corp. until 1942, when he joined the United States Navy, serving in World War II until 1946. Upon leaving the Navy, Nesen remained a member of the United States Navy Reserve, ultimately attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander before retiring from the Navy Reserve in 1966.

Upon leaving the Navy in 1946, he opened the Coast Aero Flying Service in Oxnard, California. In 1968, Nesen opened an Oldsmobile-Cadillac car dealership in Thousand Oaks, California.

Governor of California Ronald Reagan appointed Nesen to the California New Car Dealers Policy and Appeals Board, and Nesen was elected as that organization's first president. Reagan later appointed him to the California State Board of Education. Nesen was active in the Republican Party during this period and served as chairman, and then cochairman, of the California delegation to the Republican National Convention. In 1970, he became a member of the Executive Committee of the National Review Board of the United States Department of State.

In 1972, President of the United States Richard Nixon nominated Nesen as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) and Nesen subsequently served in this office from May 31, 1972 until May 15, 1974.

President Reagan named Nesen United States Ambassador to Australia in 1981 and concurrently as Ambassador to the Republic of Nauru, a post he held until 1985.[1]

In 1981 and 1987, there was press speculation that President Reagan would name Nesen United States Secretary of the Navy, but this never happened.[2]

In 1991, Nesen was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Nesen died November 14, 2005 in Thousand Oaks, California.


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Government offices
Preceded by
Frank P. Sanders
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller)
May 31, 1972 – May 15, 1974
Succeeded by
Gary D. Penisten
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Philip H. Alston
United States Ambassador to Australia
Succeeded by
Laurence W. Lane Jr.