Robert Mosbacher: Wikis


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Robert Adam Mosbacher, Sr.

In office
January 31, 1989 – January 15, 1992
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by William Verity, Jr.
Succeeded by Barbara Franklin

Born March 11, 1927(1927-03-11)
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
Died January 24, 2010 (aged 82)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Spouse(s) Jane Pennybacker (?–1970)
Sandra Smith Gerry (1973–1982)
Georgette Paulsin (1985–1998)
Michele McCutchen (2000–2010)
Children Diane (Dee) Mosbacher
Robert Mosbacher Jr.
Kathryn Mosbacher
Lisa Mosbacher Mears
Residence Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater Washington & Lee University
Occupation Petroleum industry executive
Yachtsman, Politician
Religion Presbyterian (born Jewish)[1]

Robert Adam Mosbacher, Sr. (March 11, 1927 – January 24, 2010), was an American businessman, accomplished yacht racer, and a Republican politician. In sailing, Sports Illustrated called him "the unquestioned master of fleet racing." In business in 1954, he found a million-dollar field of natural gas in South Texas. Since then, Mosbacher Energy Company has been very successful. His accumulated wealth and political connections have placed the Mosbacher family among Houston's wealthiest families. He resided and his family continues to live in the affluent River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, Texas.[2] He was U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1989 to 1992, during the administration of his friend, U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush


Early life

Mosbacher was born in Mount Vernon, New York, the son of Gertrude (née Schwartz) and Emil Mosbacher.[3] His grandparents were German Jewish immigrants.[4] Mosbacher's father was a wealthy stock trader who divested himself of most of his holdings before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, so that the Mosbacher family did not suffer great financial hardship during the Great Depression. Mosbacher graduated from The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut, and in 1947 from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, with a degree in business administration. After graduation, he went to Texas where his father had some oil investments and entered the oil business himself. He met and befriended future president George H.W. Bush in Texas.[5]

Sailing career

Sailing as a member of the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, Mosbacher led the team that won the Scoville Cup and the Midget Yacht championship for under-15 racers in 1940 on Long Island Sound.[6] He went on to win the Southern Ocean Racing Conference championship in 1958 and the Mallory Cup, also in 1958.[7] He later appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on May 18, 1959, with his brother Bus Mosbacher, for a feature article titled Kings of the Class-Boat Sailors.[8][9] The article called Bob Mosbacher "the unquestioned master of fleet racing".

He won the Silver Medal in World Championships Dragon class in 1967 in Toronto.

In 1969, he won the Gold Medal in World Championships Dragon class at Palma de Mallorca by one point.[10] As of 2010, he is still only one of two Americans to have ever won the World Championships in the Dragon class.

Soling World Championship 1971

He won the Gold Medal in World Championships Soling class in 1971 in Oyster Bay, NY on a boat named "Adlez" built by Abbott with rigging from Melges. Mosbacher beat a 53 boat fleet which included 15 Olympic Gold Medal winners amongst its ranks. Mosbacher was the only one to finish in the top ten in all five races. He went 5-4-2-10-7 in the five races for the title. (This was the year that third place finisher, Paul Bert Elvstrøm, started the trend of dropping the crew over the side in what is called drop hiking.)

He lost to Buddy Melges in the 1972 Olympic Trials (Soling class) in San Francisco Bay.[11] Buddy Melges went on to win the Gold Medal in the Soling Class at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany.

He won the Bronze Medal in World Championships 5.5 metre class in 1985 at Newport Beach

He won the Scandinavian Gold Cup for 5.5 metre yachts in 1988.

He was described in Stuart H. Walker's book Advanced Racing Tactics as a keenly competitive racer "unwilling to settle for second."[12]

Mosbacher participated in a semi-final match race against Ted Turner in the Mallory Cup in 1960. On the final windward leg, Mosbacher was slightly ahead. Ted Turner attempted to force Mosbacher into a mistake by executing a grueling tacking duel. The windward leg involved an incredible fifty-two tacks. In the end, Mosbacher won by five seconds.[13]

Political career

Robert Adam Mosbacher shaking hands with Boris Yeltsin

Mosbacher was the finance chairman of Gerald R. Ford's failed election bid in 1976.[14]He also lost his own race for delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, to a slate backing future U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan, Ford's rival for the party nomination. Mosbacher, running in the then 7th congressional district, lost to State Senator Walter Mengden of Houston, 39,276 to 26,344 votes.

Earlier, Mosbacher headed the fund-raising effort for George H.W. Bush in his losing Senate campaign against Lloyd M. Bentsen in 1970 and again in Bush's campaigns for President in 1980 and 1988.

As U.S. Secretary of Commerce, he was the principal Cabinet official responsible for initiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was a strong proponent of the agreement, which created the largest unified market in the world. The agreement was not signed into law in the U.S. until December 8, 1993, during the administration of President Bill Clinton. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.

He served as a Director of the Center for Strategy and International Studies.

He was also a Member of President Reagan's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives 1981–1983, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He then became Secretary of Commerce in 1989 after he directed the George H. W. Bush 1988 Presidential Election Campaign.

In 2008, he was the general chairman of John McCain's bid for the White House.

Mosbacher was referenced in the 13th episode of The Simpsons' seventh season, "Two Bad Neighbors."

Business interests

Robert Mosbacher was a charter member and past Chairman of the All American Wildcatters Association. He served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Petroleum Institute. He was former Director of Texas Commerce Bank and also of New York Life Insurance Company. He was a former President of the American Association of Petroleum Landmen, as well as a former chairman of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.[citation needed]

In 1989, Mosbacher received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston. He was Trustee Emeritus of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. He was President of the Board of Odyssey Academy, a public charter school located in Galveston, Texas.[15]

Family and personal life

Mosbacher's brother was Emil (Bus) Mosbacher, Jr., who successfully defended the America's Cup as skipper of the Weatherly in 1962 and again in 1967 as skipper of the Intrepid.

Mosbacher was married four times. His first marriage ended in his wife's death from leukemia in 1970. His second and third (to the former Georgette Paulsin) ended in divorce; his last marriage ended in his death. He had four children with first wife, Jane Pennybacker: Diane "Dee" Mosbacher, Robert Mosbacher, Jr., Kathryn Mosbacher and Lisa Mosbacher Mears. Born Jewish, Mosbacher converted to Pennybacker's Presbyterian religion.[1]

His son, Robert Mosbacher, Jr., is also a Houston businessman and Republican politician. Mosbacher Jr. was also a political appointee in the George W. Bush Administration. Mosbacher Jr. is the head of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a US government agency designed to assist economic growth by utilizing the private sector. He has lost races for the U.S. Senate (1984), lieutenant governor (1990), and mayor of Houston (1997).


On January 24, 2010, Mosbacher died of pancreatic cancer at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the age of 82.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b Hershey, Jr., Robert D. (2010-01-24). "Robert A. Mosbacher, 82, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Blumenfeld, Laura (1992-09-03). "The Lesbian in the GOP Family – Robert Mosbacher is Caught Between The Party Line and His Daughter Diane". Washington Post. p. D1. 
  6. ^ "Mosbacher First in Midget Sailing". The New York Times. 1940-08-20. p. 26. 
  7. ^ Rogin, Gilbert (1962-09-10). "Smiling Wizard Of The Cup Defense". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Bob Mosbacher". 10. Sports Illustrated. 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Kings Of The Class-boat Sailors". 10. Sports Illustrated. 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  10. ^ "Mosbacher Wins Sailing Crown". The Washington Post. 1969-10-06. p. B4. 
  11. ^ Sailing Smart, by Buddy Melges
  12. ^ Advanced Racing Tactics, by Stuart H. Walker
  13. ^ History of the Southern Yacht Club By Flora K. Scheib
  14. ^ "Houston Businessman to Head Ford 1976 Fund-Raising Drive". The New York Times. 1975-12-04. p. 34. 
  15. ^ Board of Odyssey Academy
  16. ^ Ex-US Commerce Secretary Mosbacher Dies in Texas ABC News, Associated Press story. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
  17. ^ Tolson, Mike. "Oilman, GOP stalwart Mosbacher dies at 82." Houston Chronicle. January 24, 2010. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Verity Jr.
United States Secretary of Commerce
Served under: George H.W. Bush

January 31, 1989 – January 15, 1992
Succeeded by
Barbara Hackman Franklin


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