RIP, George Shultz. I interviewed Mr. Shultz in the late ’90s when I was at The Chronicle. I went to his office at Stanford University, and we had a good visit. He was a well-rounded intellectual, as expected, but he also had a keen sense of humor. During our interview, he pointed to a picture he had hung on the wall of old Middle Eastern men sitting around a hookah, and he wondered aloud if it was a solution to the Mideast oil crisis. (And yes, he did discuss that Tiger tattoo on his posterior, too, in honor of his alma mater, Princeton).
His obituary, released today from the Hoover Institution, is here:
“One of the most consequential policymakers of all time, having served three American presidents, George P. Shultz died Feb. 6 at age 100. Remembered as one of the most influential secretaries of state in our history, Shultz was a key player, alongside President Ronald Reagan, in changing the direction of history by using the tools of diplomacy to bring the Cold War to an end. He knew the value of one’s word, that ‘trust was the coin of the realm,’ and stuck unwaveringly to a set of principles. This, combined with a keen intelligence, enabled him to not only imagine things thought impossible but also to bring them to fruition and forever change the course of human events.
“George Pratt Shultz, the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor emeritus at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, had a distinguished career in government, in academia, and in the world of business. He is one of only two Americans to have held four different federal cabinet posts – State, Treasury, Labor, and Office of Management and Budget. He taught at three of this country’s great universities, and for eight years was president of a major engineering and construction company.
“Condoleezza Rice, a fellow former Secretary of State and current director of the Hoover Institution, where Shultz served for more than 30 years until his passing, said, ‘Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word. He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.’
“His colleagues at Hoover called him the ‘great convener’ because he would assemble the greatest minds together to tackle the most difficult and vexing problems. He never shied away from trying to find solutions to challenges, whether they were on the global stage or just down the street. Many were not aware of Shultz’s quieter contributions or how deeply he cared about his local community, especially K-12 schools. He and his wife, Charlotte, worked tirelessly as leaders in the Bay Area, San Francisco and the Stanford community, concerned with questions of disparity, particularly in K-12 education. Fulfilling America’s promise of equality was a driving force for him and he believed deeply that only by delivering at home, could the United States lead with moral authority abroad.”