Robert Frederick Froehlke

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Robert Frederick Froehlke
Robert Froehlke.jpg
Robert Frederick Froehlke
10th United States Secretary of the Army
In office
July 1971 – May 1973
Preceded by Stanley R. Resor
Succeeded by Howard H. Callaway
Personal details
Born (1922-10-15)October 15, 1922
Neenah, Wisconsin
Died February 12, 2016(2016-02-12) (aged 93)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy J. Barnes Froehlke (married 1949)[1]
Children Bruce, Jane, Ann, Scott
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin Law School
Occupation Attorney
Insurance Executive

Robert Frederick Froehlke (October 15, 1922 – February 12, 2016) was an American businessman, lawyer, and government official who served as Secretary of the Army from July 1971 until May 1973.[2]

Early life[edit]

Froehlke was born in Neenah, Wisconsin on October 15, 1922. He graduated from high school in Marshfield, and attended the University of Wisconsin from 1940 to 1943. He joined the United States Army in 1943 serving at an Infantry Replacement Center in Europe and attaining the rank of captain before being discharged in 1946.[3]


After the war Froehlke attended the University of Wisconsin Law School. He graduated in 1949, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Madison, Wisconsin with the firm of MacDonald and MacDonald. He also served as a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin Law School.[4]


In 1951, Froehlke joined the legal department of the Sentry Insurance Company and he later became an executive with the company. A longtime friend of Melvin R. Laird, he managed Laird's congressional campaigns. When Laird became Secretary of Defense, Froehlke was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Administration. He served until 1971 and during his tenure he was assigned responsibility for all Department of Defense intelligence resources and he was chairman of the Defense Investigative Review Council.[5][6][7]

Secretary of the Army[edit]

Froehlke became Secretary of the Army in July 1971 and served until May 1973. Under his administration, the Army redeployed its last troops from Vietnam and converted from the draft to an all-volunteer force. In addition, Army administration of the Ryukyu Islands was ended, and U.S. biological warfare facilities were closed in order to comply with international treaties and conventions.[8]

As Secretary of the Army, Froehlke also was responsible for the action changing from dishonorable to honorable the discharges of the African-American soldiers who had been falsely accused of crimes in the 1906 Brownsville Affair.[9]

Later career[edit]

After resigning as Secretary of the Army, Froehlke returned to Sentry, serving as the company's president until 1976 when he left to become president of the Health Insurance Association of America. He then became president of the American Council of Life Insurers where he served until 1982 when he became chairman of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States where he served until 1987 when he became president and chief executive officer of the IDS Mutual Fund Group.[10][11]

After his 1993 retirement Froehlke resided in Minneapolis, where he was active in raising funds for civic and charitable causes. He and then University of Wisconsin, Madison chancellor Donna Shala co-chaired that school's first major fund drive.[12][13] He maintained a summer home in Waupaca, Wisconsin after relocating to Scottsdale, Arizona.[14] Froehlke died in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 12, 2016.[15]


  1. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Hearing Record: Nominations of Froehlke, Shillito, and Lincoln, 1969, page 3
  2. ^ Laird Center, Biographical Sketch
  3. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Biography, Hearing Record: Nomination of Robert F. Froehlke to be Secretary of the Army, 1971, page 2
  4. ^ Western Publishing Company, Directory of Teachers in Member Schools, 1950, page 122
  5. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Biography, Hearing Record: Department of Defense Appropriations for 1971, 1970, page 554
  6. ^ New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, 1969, page 366
  7. ^ Deborah Nelson, The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U. S. War Crimes, 2008, unnumbered page
  8. ^ William Gardner Bell, Center of Military History, Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army: Portraits & Biographical Sketches, 2003, page 150
  9. ^ EBONY Magazine, The Brownsville Affair, March 1973, page 31
  10. ^ Roberts Publishing Corporation, Insurance Advocate, Volume 87, 1976, page 40
  11. ^ Dun & Bradstreet, Reference Book of Corporate Managements, Volumes 1-3, 1991, page 1280
  12. ^ Laird Center for Medical Research, Biography, Robert Froehlke, retrieved May 30, 2014
  13. ^, Minneapolis, Minnesota Political Contributions by Individuals, retrieved May 30, 2014
  14. ^ Funeral Innovations, Obituary, Suzanne (Sue) Barnes Ryden, May 15, 2014
  15. ^ 'Robert Froehlke served as Secretary of Army during Vietnam War,' Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, Rick Romell, February 13, 2016

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Stanley R. Resor
United States Secretary of the Army
July 1971 – May 1973
Succeeded by
Howard H. Callaway