He was defiant to the last, however. “I have benefited greatly from the criticism,” he said, invoking Winston Churchill on the day he resigned, “and at no time have I suffered from the lack thereof.”
A Son of Illinois
Donald Henry Rumsfeld was born in Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, on July 9, 1932, to George and Jeanette (Huster) Rumsfeld. His parents were successful real 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, majored in political science, was captain of the wrestling and football teams and graduated in 1954.
That year he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Pierson. She survives him, as do their three children, Valerie Richard, Marcy Rumsfeld and Nicholas Rumsfeld; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mr. Rumsfeld had homes in Washington and St. Michaels, Md., in addition to his ranch in Taos.
Mr. Rumsfeld joined the Navy in 1954 and became a jet fighter pilot and flight instructor. He left active service as a lieutenant (junior grade) in 1957, though he continued to fly and take administrative assignments in the Naval Reserve for many years.
He went to Washington in 1957 and for a few years was an aide to two Republican congressmen, David Dennison of Ohio and Robert Griffin of Michigan. The experience whetted his appetite for politics. After working briefly as a banker, Mr. Rumsfeld, at 30, won a seat in Congress as a Republican in 1962, representing an affluent district north of Chicago.
In the House he backed Representative Gerald R. Ford’s successful bid for the Republican leadership and compiled a generally conservative voting record, opposing the social programs of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and taking a hard line on Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro. But he also voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for freedom of information laws. He easily won re-election in 1964, 1966 and 1968.