It is being reported by the Washington Post and other news outlets that George Shultz, who held four separate presidential cabinet posts in his lengthy political career, passed way at the age of 100 on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Shultz got his start in politics when living in Stow starting in the late 1940s, and he was recently the subject of an article in the Independent about his experiences in Stow. The article is below.
Former Stow resident George Schultz at 100
Dec. 23, 2020|The Stow Independent
by Ann Needle
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, one of Stow’s most famous residents, marked his 100th birthday on Dec. 13. Serving on the Stow Board of Selectmen early in his career, Shultz recently recalled Stow as “very pleasant, a nice place. I enjoyed Stow a lot.”
Shultz was born in New York City in 1920. He earned a BA from Princeton University — where he played football — before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Among the many prestigious government positions Shultz eventually served in were: Secretary of Labor (1969-1970), Secretary of the Treasury (1972-1974), and Secretary of State (1982-1989). He continues to publish analysis for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Long before his Washington years, Shultz launched much of that career from Red Acre Road in Stow. After leaving active service in 1948 Shultz bought his 302 Red Acre Rd. home, one of the houses built in Red Acre Village by Harriet Bird of Red Acre Farm exclusively for service veterans.
“Miss Bird wanted all children to have a horse,” said Shultz on a recent phone call with the Independent from his West Coast home. “The kids would go down and feed it,” Shultz reported of his five children and one of Miss Bird’s horses. “They did nothing with it except feed it.” Apparently, this satisfied Miss Bird.
Reflecting on other Stow memories, Shultz said, “I think Erikson’s Ice Cream is still there. We always would go there on opening day and have an ice cream cone.”
Political Lessons from the Stow front
After earning a doctorate in 1949, Shultz taught at MIT for several years before moving on to his U.S. government career. He mentioned commuting to Cambridge daily with a few Stow neighbors. “We had a little carpool, and we enjoyed that.”
Shultz’s very first foray into town politics taught him a bit about the whims of politics.
“We had a small school system, and the state decided we should have a regional school system, and I thought it was a good idea, so I ran for the [regional] school board,” Shultz said. “The town turned down the regional school, but they elected me by an overwhelming margin to a non-existent office — my first public service.”
Shultz then spent some years as a selectman. “What I remember is I was accustomed, as a public policy person, to thinking about these big issues. But they were not of any particular interest to a selectman,” he said. “You had to focus on the issues that were personal, that affected people’s lives. I got to know the fact that people really wanted to make sure the roads are cleared in winter and stuff like that.”
View from the Neighbors
“George was very interested in the town, he was very popular. Frannie Warren, the town clerk, was very fond of him,” recalled Concord’s Thruston Hammer, Shultz’s former neighbor on Red Acre Road, who used to live across the street from the Shultz family.
“He was a patriotic kind of guy,” Hammer observed, noting Shultz’s fondness for the Fourth of July. Hammer said Shultz’s family had a home in Cummington, in Western Mass., where the clan would head for summer visits, and was always involved in the town July 4th celebration.
“And the [Red Acre] Village people would go with him. He’d invite us out there; they always had a parade on the Fourth of July,” Hammer recalled. “People walked around with a flag and drum. You would think it would be kind of corny to be doing that kind of thing, but he had all the kids in line and everybody was in it.”
Marching on, the Hoover Institute pointed out that Shultz is one of two individuals who have held four separate presidential cabinet posts. And, not to neglect the private sector, Shultz also served eight years as president of a major construction and engineering firm (Bechtel).
But Stow holds a unique place in Shultz’s career. As Hammer pointed out, the only times Shultz actually was elected to a government office was for the Town of Stow.
The Hoover Institution offers much more about Shultz, along with his latest work there, at https://www.hoover.org/george-p-shultz-100-celebration.