Caspar Weinberger – Dies at 88

August 18, 1917 – March 28, 2006

The former Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger died at the age of 88, in March 2006.  His death occurred while hospitalized in Bangor, Maine, suffering from pneumonia.  Weinberger’s wife of 63 years and two children were at his bed side.

“He gave everything to his country, to public office and to his family,” Caspar Weinberger Jr. said.

In addition to his many political positions, Weinberger was publisher and chairman of Forbes Magazine since 1988, after he resigned his post in November 1987, with the Defense Department.  In 1989 he became the fourth publisher for Forbes and in 1993 became he chairman.  Caspar Weinberger served in both Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon’s Cabinets.  The start of his political career was in the California Legislature in 1952.  He began his illustrious career by cleaning up and reorganizing the corrupt state liquor commission.

“Cap” as he was referred to made many inroads into winning the cold war.  Steve Forbes said “we loved picking his brains. On a personal level he was unfailingly decent and always thoughtful – a true gentleman.  We will miss him dearly.”  Weinberger had been a confidant of President Ronald Reagan and served almost seven years as the 15th secretary of defense.  During his time with the Reagan administration he was appointed to posts on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the National Economic Commission.  Reagan and Weinberger will always be remembered as being part of the administration that rebuilt American’s military through strategic modern change, which in time forced the demise of the Soviet Union.  The Iran/Contra affair was taxing on everyone including the toll it took on Weinberger.  Weinberger had been charged with “making false statements” by a special prosecutor.   However, on Christmas Eve in 1992, he was pardoned by the then-president Bush.  In 1987, Weinberger resigned from the Defense Department.  After six years and 10 months, he was worn from the Iran/Contra affair and in disagreement about an arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union.  After his resignation he wrote several books and published articles regarding national security.

He will always be remembered as someone who made a difference in the restructure and reorganization of our military draft/enlistment programs.  He was also a very qualified administrator and carried a reputation as an effective cost cutter, which earned him the nickname “Cap the Knife”.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement: “He devoted his life to this country and served with dedication in many capacities over the years. … His legacy is a strong and free America, and for this and for a lifetime of selfless service, a grateful nation thanks him.”

“It’s a very sad day,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Said former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “Cap Weinberger was an indefatigable fighter for peace through strength.”