In Memory of Secretary George P. Shultz

Yesterday we learned that one of the 20th Century’s greatest public servants, the inestimable Secretary George P. Shultz, passed away at age 100.  Over the course of his career he held four cabinet positions, including Secretary of State under President Reagan, where he helped lay the foundation for a peaceful end to the Cold War. Secretary Shultz was also an early supporter of, and mentor to, Governor Schwarzenegger and served on the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy’s advisory board since our founding in 2011. 

In a letter he sent to Secretary Shultz last December, Governor Schwarzenegger said, “you inspire me with your loyalty and friendship. I tell people I am not a self-made man, and that’s because of people like you. You were right there when I ran for Governor, giving me your support and also the best advice anyone could ask for. You were right there through all of my seven years helping to guide me. And you were right there when the oil companies tried to undo our environmental progress with Proposition 23, proving that real Republicans fight for clean energy.” 

Yesterday, in a statement accompanying the letter posted to social media, Schwarzenegger added that Shultz had “a servant's heart that gave itself to this country until its very last beat. He was a great American, and a good man. He was a wonderful mentor to me and a visionary for our country.” ?

Secretary Shultz was an incredibly generous man with his time and advice, and someone who treated everyone with respect. I remember having a long conversation with Secretary Shultz on California Exceptionalism in 2006 when I was a junior staffer in the Governor’s Office. While I had a lot of passion for the subject, I wanted to know more from people who’d helped shape our state. Secretary Shultz took time to help expand my understanding of California and to this day, he is synonymous with California Exceptionalism in my mind.

It’s impossible to talk about Secretary Shultz without mentioning his extraordinary wife, Charlotte. Charlotte is perhaps the only person who could upstage the former cabinet secretary (but rarely did), and her service to California as Chief of Protocol will never be rivaled. Personally, I will always remember the time she brought Beach Blanket Babylon to San Francisco City Hall dressed as Wonder Woman. Charlotte truly is a wonder woman and she and Secretary Shultz were an incredible pair who beautifully complimented the other. 

On behalf of everyone at the Schwarzenegger Institute, I send our deepest condolences to Charlotte and the Shultz family on their loss, and thank them for sharing the great man with us. His legacy will live on in the great work that he did and the countless lives he touched.

Conyers Davis 
Global Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute