Donald Rumsfeld, Protection Secretary Throughout Iraq Warfare, Is Useless at 88

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However, he was defiant to the end. “I have benefited greatly from the criticism,” he said, referring to Winston Churchill on the day of his resignation, “and at no point did I suffer from it.”

Donald Henry Rumsfeld was born on July 9, 1932 in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to George and Jeanette (Huster) Rumsfeld. His parents were successful estate agents, and in 1937 the family moved to nearby Winnetka, where Donald and his sister Joan attended both private and public schools.

He was an excellent student and became an eagle scout and an athlete. After graduating from New Trier High School in 1950, he attended Princeton on scholarships, studied political science, captained wrestling and football teams, and graduated in 1954.

That year he married his high school girlfriend, Joyce Pierson. She survived him, as did her three children Valerie Richard, Marcy Rumsfeld and Nicholas Rumsfeld; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mr. Rumsfeld had homes in Washington and St. Michaels, Maryland, in addition to his ranch in Taos.

Mr. Rumsfeld joined the Navy in 1954 and became a jet fighter pilot and flight instructor. In 1957 he retired from active service as a lieutenant, but flew for many years and performed administrative tasks in the naval reserve.

In 1957 he went to Washington and for several years was an advisor to two Republican congressmen, David Dennison of Ohio and Robert Griffin of Michigan. The experience made him want to go into politics. After serving briefly as a banker, Mr. Rumsfeld, aged 30, won a Republican seat in Congress in 1962, representing a wealthy district north of Chicago.

In the House of Representatives, he supported MP Gerald R. Ford’s successful bid for Republican leadership and set a generally conservative vote record, rejected the social programs of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and took a tough line against Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro . But he also voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and freedom of information laws. In 1964, 1966 and 1968 he easily won re-election.