George P. Shultz, 1920-2021: The National WWII Museum Celebrates his Life and Mourns his Passing

George P. Shultz, WWII veteran, long-time public servant, and friend of The National WWII Museum, passed away on February 6, 2021, at the age of 100.

Top Image: Shultz at 2006 American Spirit Awards, courtesy of The National WWII Museum.

George P. Shultz, WWII veteran, long-time public servant, and friend of The National WWII Museum, passed away on February 6, 2021, at the age of 100. 

Born on December 13, 1920 in New York City and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, Shultz attended Princeton University, graduating in 1942 and starting a lifelong career of public service and commitment to education. 

On December 7, 1941 Shultz was at New York’s famous Polo Grounds on a date watching the NFL NY Giants lose to the Brooklyn Dodgers 21-7. Upon exiting the stadium, he heard that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in 1942 and served in the United States Marine Corps through 1945. Assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations, he was in charge of an anti-aircraft unit. As a liaison officer between the Marines and Army, Shultz was attached to the Army’s 81st Infantry Division for the fighting on Angaur during the Palau Campaign, where he landed on the second wave under enemy fire in September 1944.

George P. Shultz as a young Marine officer, courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle


As the war entered its final stages, Shultz was on his way back to the States to prepare for the pending invasion of mainland Japan. He was on board ship when word spread of a new weapon being used in the war with a Japan--the atomic bomb--and that the war would soon be over.

After the war, Shultz received his PhD from MIT. He would go on to serve in the administrations of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and most notably Ronald Reagan.

Secretary Shultz with President Reagan and Vice President Bush, 1985, courtesy of Barry Thumma/AP Photo


Under Reagan, Shultz served as Secretary of State and was integral in the warming of relations with the Soviet Union, overseeing negotiations that would eventually lead to the dissolution of the Communist bloc, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War.

In 2006 The National WWII Museum awarded Secretary Shultz the American Spirit Award, its highest honor, for his years of service during World War II and throughout his career. The proceeds from the gala event honoring Secretary Shultz went towards the establishment of the Museum’s George P. Shultz Forum on World Affairs Endowment Fund, which has brought many leading figures to the Museum to speak on various topics.

Some of those who have presented include: James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA (2007); Dr. G. Wayne Clough, 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian (2011); Gen. David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and four-star general (2013); Adm. James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander, NATO (2014); Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Israel (2015); and Dr. Lester Tenney, WWII Veteran and Bataan Death March Survivor (2016).

In 2010 The National WWII Museum conducted an oral history interview with Secretary Shultz and have provided a nine-minute, edited highlights version, which we invite you to view at the link below.

The Museum mourns the passing of Sec. Shultz, who dedicated his life to serving his country. Our thoughts are with his wife, five children, 11 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. While saddened by his passing, we are honored to carry on his legacy in his name.