Robert McNamara : biography
After graduating from Harvard Business School, McNamara worked a year for the accounting firm Price Waterhouse in San Francisco. In August 1940 he returned to Harvard to teach accounting in the business school and became the highest paid and youngest assistant professor at that time. Following his involvement there in a program to teach analytical approaches used in business to officers of the United States Army Air Forces, he entered the USAAF as a captain in early 1943, serving most of World War II with its Office of Statistical Control. One major responsibility was the analysis of U.S. bombers’ efficiency and effectiveness, especially the B-29 forces commanded by Major General Curtis LeMay in India, China and the Mariana Islands.Rich Frank: Downfall, Random House, 1999. McNamara established a statistical control unit for XX Bomber Command and devised schedules for B-29s doubling as transports for carrying fuel and cargo over The Hump. He left active duty in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and with a Legion of Merit.
McNamara married Margaret Craig, his teenage sweetheart, on August 13, 1940. Margaret McNamara, a former teacher, used her position as a Cabinet spouse to launch a reading program for young children, Reading Is Fundamental, which became the largest literacy program in the country. She died of cancer in 1981.
The couple had two daughters and a son. The son Robert Craig McNamara, who as a student objected to the Vietnam War, is now a walnut and grape farmer in California. He is the owner of Sierra Orchards in Winters, California. Daughter Kathleen McNamara Spears is a forester with the World Bank. The second daughter is Margaret Elizabeth Pastor.
In the Errol Morris documentary, McNamara reports that both he and his wife were stricken with polio shortly after the end of World War II. Although McNamara had a relatively short stay in the hospital, his wife’s case was more serious and it was concern over meeting her medical bills that led to his decision to not return to Harvard but to enter private industry as a consultant at Ford Motor Company.
When working at Ford Motor Company, McNamara resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan rather than the usual auto executive domains of Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and Bloomfield Hills. He and his wife sought to remain connected with a university town (the University of Michigan) after their hopes of returning to Harvard after the war were put on hold.
In 1961 he was named Alumnus of the Year by the University of California, Berkeley.
On September 29, 1972, a passenger on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard recognized McNamara on board and attempted to throw him into the ocean. McNamara declined to press charges. The man remained anonymous, but was interviewed years later by author Paul Hendrickson,Hendrickson, Paul: The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War. Vintage, 1997. ISBN 0-679-78117-X. who quoted the attacker as saying, "I just wanted to confront (McNamara) on Vietnam."
After his wife’s death, McNamara dated Katharine Graham, with whom he had been friends since the early 1960s. Graham died in 2001.
In September 2004, McNamara wed Diana Masieri Byfield, an Italian-born widow who had lived in the United States for more than 40 years. It was her second marriage. She was married for more than three decades to Ernest Byfield, a former OSS officer and Chicago hotel heir whose mother, Gladys Tartiere, leased her , Glen Ora estate in Middleburg, Virginia to John F. Kennedy during his presidency.
McNamara was, at the end of his life, a life trustee on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security, a trustee of the American University of Nigeria, and an honorary trustee for the Brookings Institution.
McNamara died in his sleep at his home in Washington, D.C. early in the morning on July 6, 2009. He was 93.. New York Times, July 6, 2009.