|28th United States Secretary of Commerce|
January 31, 1989 – January 15, 1992
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|Preceded by||William Verity|
|Succeeded by||Barbara Franklin|
Robert Adam Mosbacher
March 11, 1927
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
|Died||January 24, 2010 (aged 82)|
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Children||4 by Jane Pennybacker (including Dee and Robert)|
|Education||Washington and Lee University (BA)|
Robert Adam Mosbacher Sr. (March 11, 1927 – January 24, 2010) was an American businessman, accomplished yacht racer, and a Republican politician. A longtime friend and politically ally of George H. W. Bush, Mosbacher served in Bush's Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce from 1989 to 1992.
Mosbacher was born in Mount Vernon, New York, to Gertrude (née Schwartz) and Emil Mosbacher. His grandparents were German Jewish immigrants. He had a sister, Barbara, and a brother, Emil Mosbacher Jr., a two-time America's Cup-winning yachtsman and former Presidential Chief of Protocol. Mosbacher had a colorful childhood, growing up around characters like George Gershwin, a friend of his father. After graduation from The Choate School, he went to Texas as a wildcatter. He befriended future president George H. W. Bush in Texas.
|1971 Oyster Bay||Soling|
|1985 Newport Beach||5.5m|
Sailing as a member of the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, Mosbacher led the team that won the Scoville Cup and the Midget Yacht championship for under-15 racers in 1940 on Long Island Sound. He went on to win the Southern Ocean Racing Conference championship in 1958 and the Mallory Cup, also in 1958. Mosbacher later appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on May 18, 1959, with his brother Bus Mosbacher, for a feature article titled Kings of the Class-Boat Sailors. The article called Bob Mosbacher "the unquestioned master of fleet racing".
In 1969, he won the Gold Medal in World Championships Dragon class at Palma de Mallorca by one point. As of 2010, he was still only one of two Americans to have ever won the World Championships in the Dragon class.
He won the Gold Medal in World Championships Soling class in 1971 in Oyster Bay, NY on a boat named "Adlez" built by Abbott with rigging from Melges. He lost to Buddy Melges in the 1972 Olympic Trials (Soling class) in San Francisco Bay. Buddy Melges went on to win the Gold Medal in the Soling Class at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany. Mosbacher won the Bronze Medal in World Championships 5.5 metre class in 1985 at Newport Beach. In 1988 he won the Scandinavian Gold Cup for 5.5 metre yachts.
He was described in Stuart H. Walker's book Advanced Racing Tactics as a keenly competitive racer "unwilling to settle for second".
Mosbacher participated in a semi-final match race against Ted Turner in the Mallory Cup in 1960. On the final windward leg, Mosbacher was slightly ahead. Ted Turner attempted to force Mosbacher into a mistake by executing a grueling tacking duel. The windward leg involved fifty-two tacks. In the end, Mosbacher won by five seconds.
Mosbacher was the finance chairman of Gerald Ford's failed election bid in 1976. He also lost his own race for delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, to a slate backing Ronald Reagan, Ford's rival for the party nomination. Mosbacher, running in the then 7th congressional district, lost to State Senator Walter Mengden of Houston, 39,276 to 26,344 votes.
Earlier, Mosbacher in 1970 headed the fund-raising effort for George H. W. Bush in his losing Senate campaign against Lloyd M. Bentsen and again in Bush's campaigns for President in 1980 and 1988.
As U.S. Secretary of Commerce, he was the principal Cabinet official responsible for initiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was a strong proponent of the agreement, which created the largest unified market in the world. The agreement was not signed into law in the U.S. until December 8, 1993, during the administration of President Bill Clinton. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.
Mosbacher was a member of President Reagan's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives 1981–83, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He then became Secretary of Commerce in 1989 after he directed the George H. W. Bush 1988 Presidential Election Campaign. He also served as a Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2008, he was the general chairman of John McCain's bid for the White House.
Mosbacher was a charter member and past Chairman of the All American Wildcatters Association, and served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Petroleum Institute. He was former Director of Texas Commerce Bank and also of New York Life Insurance Company. Mosbacher was a former President of the American Association of Petroleum Landmen, as well as a former chairman of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
In 1989, Mosbacher received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston. He was Trustee Emeritus of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, and President of the Board of Odyssey Academy, a public charter school located in Galveston, Texas.
The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy was founded in October 2009 upon the request of President George H.W. Bush to honor Mosbacher. The mission of the Mosbacher Institute is to address economic challenges confronting the United States and world economies by conducting policy-relevant research, providing education, and engaging stakeholders in the areas of trade, economics, and public policy. The Institute is a nonpartisan organization.
Family and personal life
Mosbacher was married four times:
- In 1946, he married Jane Pennybacker. Born Jewish, Mosbacher converted to Pennybacker's Presbyterian religion. They had four children: Diane "Dee" Mosbacher, Robert Mosbacher Jr., Kathryn Mosbacher, and Lisa Mosbacher Mears. The marriage ended upon his wife's death from leukemia in 1970.
- His marriage to Sandra Smith Gerry ended in divorce in 1982.
- In 1985, he married Georgette Paulsin, herself twice previously married. They divorced in 1998.
- His last marriage of 10 years to Michele "Mica" Mosbacher (Mica McCutchen Duncan) ended with his death.
Mosbacher's eldest daughter Diane "Dee" Mosbacher is a psychiatrist and lesbian activist. In 1992, Robert Mosbacher Sr. was the first Republican Campaign Chair to meet with leaders from the National Lesbian Gay Task Force. His son, Robert Mosbacher Jr., is a businessman, public servant, and a former Republican politician.
- Death and burial
On January 24, 2010, Mosbacher died of pancreatic cancer at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the age of 82. He was buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Awards and honors
This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2021)
- 1984 – Washington and Lee University awards him honorary doctor of laws degree
- 1989 – Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement
- In 1999, he was awarded the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Gold Medal.
- Receives “Order of the Aztec Eagle,” the highest decoration offered by the Mexican Government to non-citizens
- 2009 – Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System approved the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy in the Bush School of Government and Public Service
- 2016 – Preston Street Bridge near downtown Houston renamed in late Robert A. Mosbacher, Sr.'s honor
- Blumenfeld, Laura (1992-09-03). "The Lesbian in the GOP Family – Robert Mosbacher is Caught Between The Party Line and His Daughter Diane". Washington Post. p. D1.
- "Mosbacher First in Midget Sailing". The New York Times. 1940-08-20. p. 26.
- Rogin, Gilbert (1962-09-10). "Smiling Wizard Of The Cup Defense". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
- "Bob Mosbacher". Sports Illustrated. 10 (20). 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
- "Kings Of The Class-boat Sailors". Sports Illustrated. 10 (20). 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
- "Mosbacher Wins Sailing Crown". The Washington Post. 1969-10-06. p. B4.
- Sailing Smart, by Buddy Melges
- Advanced Racing Tactics, by Stuart H. Walker
- History of the Southern Yacht Club By Flora K. Scheib
- "Houston Businessman to Head Ford 1976 Fund-Raising Drive". The New York Times. 1975-12-04. p. 34.
- Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo Jr. of Midland and the 96–0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook Vol. 86 (2010), p. 81
- Board of Odyssey Academy Archived 2009-05-26 at the Wayback Machine
- Hershey Jr., Robert D. (2010-01-24). "Robert A. Mosbacher, 82, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
- Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook (2002), by Raymond Smith, p. 151.
- Ex-US Commerce Secretary Mosbacher Dies in Texas ABC News, Associated Press story. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
- Tolson, Mike. "Oilman, GOP stalwart Mosbacher dies at 82." Houston Chronicle. January 24, 2010. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
- Mosbacher remembered as prolific fundraiser, Houston Chronicle
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.