Business Politics

Donald Rumsfield


Donald Rumsfeld is an American businessman and politician with a long list of government and corporate positions he held. He is the 13th and 21st Secretary of Defense, making him the youngest ever and currently the oldest defense secretary in the history of United States. He also held a number of highly distinguished offices including the White House Chief of Staff and U.S. Ambassador to NATO. He has also been Congressman representing Illinois.

Rumsfeld has also served the U.S. Navy in 1954, and has held various positions until he retired as Navy Captain in 1989. Rumsfeld has been awarded eleven honorary degrees and has received numerous recognitions including the Statesmanship Award by the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress in 2003, The Gerald R. Ford Medal in 2004, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor that a United States civilian can receive.

He made his mark in the corporate world being a Chief Executive Officer of two Fortune 500 companies.


Donald Henry Rumsfeld was born on July 9, 1932 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois to George Donald Rumsfeld and Jeannette Huster. In 1949, he became an Eagle Scout and eventually received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Silver Buffalo Award. In 1949, he became a ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch. He graduated from New Trier High School, located north of Chicago. He then entered Princeton University on NROTC and academic scholarships and graduated in 1954 holding an A.B. Degree.

Rumsfeld is married to Joyce H. Person and they have three children.


In 1957, he became an administrative assistant to U.S. Representative David Dennison of Ohio. In 1959, he served as a staff assistant to U.S. Representative Robert Griffin of Michigan. In 1960, Rumsfeld worked for an investment banking company, A.G. Becker & Co., Inc.

In 1962, he was elected to represent the 13th congressional district of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives. He held the post for another three terms in 1964, 1966, and 1968. On May 25, 1969, he resigned from Congress to serve as the Assistant and Director of the Office of the Economic Opportunity in the Cabinet of President Richard Nixon, until 1970. He also served other positions under the Nixon Administration including the Director of the Cost of Living Council (1971-1973) and the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 1973 to 1974.

In 1974, he became the White House Chief of Staff under President Ford’s administration, and in 1975, he was the Secretary of Defense until 1977.

From 1977 to 1985, he became CEO, President, and then Chairman of G.D. Searle & Company, a global pharmaceutical company. From 1990 to 1993, he was also the Chairman and CEO of General Instrument Corporation. He has also served in several corporate boards including Gilead Sciences, Inc., Asea Brown Boveri Ltd., Tribune Company, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and RAND Corporation.

In 1983, he was a Special Envoy to the Middle East under Reagan’s administration and served the federal government under the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2001, he became Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush and resigned in 2006 after the Republicans lost their majority in Congress.