1/25/2010 5:02 PM
A former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and an architect of the modern Republican Party of Texas died Sunday.
Bob Mosbacher, who became Commerce Secretary during the Geroge H.W. Bush Administration and recently a key player with the John McCain Presidential Campaign, died of pancreatic cancer at age 82. Mosbacher, a native of New York who later moved to Texas and established a lucrative oil exploration and production business, also led a colorful political career, in addition to several championships as an amateur sailor.
"Out of a deep desire to give something back to his country, he got involved in elective politics in the 1960's," his obituary read. "Although he served as Harris County Chairman of the 1968 Nixon Campaign, it was his loyal friendship with, and devoted support of George Bush that would lead him to the national political stage. In fact, Mosbacher managed the national fundraising operations for five different GOP presidential campaigns - from Gerald Ford in 1976 to John McCain in 2008. He was regarded by friend and foe alike as one of the most effective political fundraisers in modern history, partly because of the respect he commanded as a business leader, and because he never asked others to support a candidate or cause he was not supporting actively himself."
The obituary credited him with the formation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Most recently, the Robert A. Mosbacher Sr. Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy was created within the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
“Bob Mosbacher was the kind of visionary leader who has made Texas great. As he achieved business success by taking risks in pursuit of a dream, he also improved his community with philanthropy and his country with principled service. As Commerce Secretary, he helped expand trade opportunities that have helped establish Texas as the top exporting state in the nation, creating jobs and improving countless lives in the process," said Gov. Rick Perry. “Of anyone I have ever known, Bob may have lived the most interesting, swashbuckling and profound life. Anita and I are deeply saddened at the loss of a cherished friend, advisor and supporter. We extend our sincere condolences and prayers to [wife] Mica, their family and so many friends all over the world.”
U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry's rival in the gubernatorial election, had some words on her friend's passing:
“I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Bob Mosbacher. Bob was a pillar of the Houston business community and brought that passion for free enterprise to his service as Secretary of Commerce under the first President Bush. And he was one of the early architects of building the Republican Party in Texas. He will be missed by greatly by his family and friends and his beloved city.”
His former boss, fellow Houstonite George H.W. Bush, released a statement praising his many accomplishments:
"Barbara and I feel a profound sense of personal grief over the death of our dear friend Bob Mosbacher, a close friend of some 50 years who helped us, and guided us, and lifted us up in so many different ways. As good as he was at political fundraising — as he was certainly the very best at that — Bob meant so much more to us. Together we shared a journey that led to the presidency, the mountaintop of American politics, and there we worked together to help America more fully embrace the world around us and compete in the newly emerging global markets that the waning Cold War made accessible. No doubt, Bob will be remembered as one the most effective Commerce Secretaries in our Nation’s history ... We loved him very much. He will be sorely and deeply missed. "
A memorial service is set for Wednesday at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Mosbacher Institute at the Bush School at Texas A&M University, or the Odyssey Academy Charter School in Galveston.