Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Obituaries

C. Douglas Dillon, 93; Ran U.S. Treasury

January 12, 2003|From Associated Press

C. Douglas Dillon, a Wall Street investment banker and diplomat who served as secretary of the Treasury in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has died. He was 93.

Dillon died Friday at New York Presbyterian-Cornell Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for several weeks with a severe infection. The death was first reported Saturday on the New York Times Web site.

The scion of a noted financial family, he was hand-picked by President-elect Kennedy to head the Treasury Department. Dillon had spent six years as U.S. ambassador to France and nearly two years as undersecretary of State for economic affairs during the Eisenhower administration.

As an original member of Kennedy's Cabinet, Dillon was one of its two high-profile Republicans -- along with Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara -- surrounded by Democrats.

Dillon also was among the Cabinet officers who stayed on at the behest of President Johnson after Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. Dillon returned to private life in 1965.

Under both Democratic presidents he led the Alliance for Progress, a program to spur economic development in Latin America.

He had earlier spearheaded that effort as a founder of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Known as a staunch advocate of free trade, Dillon as Treasury secretary from 1961 to 1965 developed policies aimed at reducing the U.S. trade deficit by controlling inflation and expanding exports.

He also backed U.S. cooperation with the European Common Market.

On the domestic front, he advocated a massive tax-cut program to spur economic growth.

The tax measure was pending at the time of Kennedy's death, and Dillon won Johnson's support for its passage by Congress in 1964.

In 1989, Dillon received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

Other recipients were statesman George Kennan, World War II hero Gen. James Doolittle, former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) and comedian Lucille Ball.

The citation presented by then-President Bush lauded Dillon "for service to three presidents and for commitment to his fellow man."

"By fostering European economic and military unity, he furthered the cause of democracy," it said. "Through his leadership on economic issues, he helped make possible the material advance of a generation."

Clarence Douglas Dillon was born in Geneva in 1909. He was educated at Groton School and Harvard College, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1931.

The same year, at age 22, he became a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He eventually followed his father, also a noted Wall Street financier, as head of the family investment firm, Dillon, Read & Co.

Like Kennedy, Dillon served in the Navy during World War II. In 1953, Eisenhower plucked him from private life to begin a six-year stint as U.S. ambassador to France.

He became undersecretary of State in 1959 and was serving in that role when tapped unexpectedly to join the new Democratic administration in 1961.

Closely identified with the Rockefellers, Dillon was a patron of the arts and served as chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's board of trustees from 1977 to 1983.

At a 1984 gala celebrating the museum's 75th anniversary, Dillon said his diplomatic career in France had helped him to appreciate art.

"If you like the art of a country, you realize that the people who produced it must be fairly decent people that you ought to be able to get along with," he said.

As board chairman he gave $20 million personally to the museum, raised the bulk of $100 million for its renovation and expansion and led an acquisitions effort that stressed Chinese paintings and calligraphy, now housed in a wing bearing his name.

Dillon and his first wife, the late Phyllis Ellsworth, had two daughters, Phyllis Ellsworth Colins and Joan Dillon Moseley. Joan, as the Duchesse de Mouchy, has managed the family's Chateau Haut-Brion vineyards in France.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|