William H. Regnery II, 80, Dies; Bankrolled the Rise of the Alt-Proper


Mr. Regnery graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Political Science and joined the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative student organization co-founded by Mr. Buckley. He left to work on Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign before graduation.

In an interview with Buzzfeed in 2017, one of the few times he spoke to the news media, he claimed that his efforts on behalf of Mr. Goldwater included what he called “Operation Dewdrop,” trying to win Democratic voters in Philadelphia deter them by renting a plane to sow the skies with dry ice in hopes of making it rain. He failed – although, he remembered, he burned his fingers on the ultra-cold dry ice containers.

Mr. Regnery later returned to Chicago where he worked for Joanna-Western Mills. He became president of the company in 1980 but was dismissed a year later after several quarters of poor financial performance. He claims to have spent the remainder of his career in a variety of companies while also engaging in Illinois politics.

In his memoir, he recounted how he first began to oppose the Republican Party after hearing a 1993 speech in which economist Milton Friedman declared that the end of the Cold War meant the market economy doctrines of the Reagan era won. In an early sign of that hiatus, Mr. Regnery ran unsuccessfully for Illinois Secretary of State in 1994 on the ticket to the Term Limits and Tax Limits party, according to a 2017 profile in Mother Jones.

Five years later he convened a Who’s Who of white racists for a conference in Florida, where he gave a speech entitled “For the Children of Our Children,” saying that America’s white identity can only be saved When they broke up several smaller countries, one each for the different ethnic groups of the country.

His racism became clearer. He announced plans to start a white-only dating site in 2004. It never happened, but he continued to worry that white people were threatened with extinction: in 2006, he gave a speech in Chicago in which he said, “The white race can go from master of the universe to an anthropological curiosity.”

By then he had severed most of his ties with the mainstream Republicans, and they with him. In the same year, he was removed from the board of directors of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which he had joined in college.