Robert Adam Mosbacher, Sr. (March 11, 1927 – January 24, 2010) was an American businessman, accomplished yacht racer, and a Republican politician.

Early life

Mosbacher was born in Mount Vernon, New York, to Gertrude (née Schwartz) and Emil Mosbacher.[2] His grandparents were German Jewish immigrants.[3] After graduation, he went to Texas where his father had some oil investments and entered the oil business himself. He befriended future president George H. W. Bush in Texas.[4]

Sailing career

Sailing as a member of the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, Mosbacher led the team that won the Scoville Cup and the Midget Yacht championship for under-15 racers in 1940 on Long Island Sound.[5] He went on to win the Southern Ocean Racing Conference championship in 1958 and the Mallory Cup, also in 1958.[6] Mosbacher later appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on May 18, 1959, with his brother Bus Mosbacher, for a feature article titled Kings of the Class-Boat Sailors.[7][8] The article called Bob Mosbacher "the unquestioned master of fleet racing".

Mosbacher won the Silver Medal in World Championships Dragon class in 1967 in Toronto.

In 1969, he won the Gold Medal in World Championships Dragon class at Palma de Mallorca by one point.[9] As of 2010, he was still only one of two Americans to have ever won the World Championships in the Dragon class.

Soling World Championship 1971

He won the Gold Medal in World Championships Soling class in 1971 in Oyster Bay, NY on a boat named "Adlez" built by Abbott with rigging from Melges. He lost to Buddy Melges in the 1972 Olympic Trials (Soling class) in San Francisco Bay.[10]Buddy Melges went on to win the Gold Medal in the Soling Class at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany. Mosbacher won the Bronze Medal in World Championships 5.5 metre class in 1985 at Newport Beach. In 1988 he won the Scandinavian Gold Cup for 5.5 metre yachts.

He was described in Stuart H. Walker's book Advanced Racing Tactics as a keenly competitive racer "unwilling to settle for second".[11]

Mosbacher participated in a semi-final match race against Ted Turner in the Mallory Cup in 1960. On the final windward leg, Mosbacher was slightly ahead. Ted Turner attempted to force Mosbacher into a mistake by executing a grueling tacking duel. The windward leg involved fifty-two tacks. In the end, Mosbacher won by five seconds.[12]

Political career

Robert Adam Mosbacher shaking hands with Boris Yeltsin

Mosbacher was the finance chairman of Gerald R. Ford's failed election bid in 1976.[13] He also lost his own race for delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, to a slate backing future U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan, Ford's rival for the party nomination. Mosbacher, running in the then 7th congressional district, lost to State Senator Walter Mengden of Houston, 39,276 to 26,344 votes.[14]

Earlier, Mosbacher in 1970 headed the fund-raising effort for George H. W. Bush in his losing Senate campaign against Lloyd M. Bentsen and again in Bush's campaigns for President in 1980 and 1988.[citation needed]

As U.S. Secretary of Commerce, he was the principal Cabinet official responsible for initiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was a strong proponent of the agreement, which created the largest unified market in the world. The agreement was not signed into law in the U.S. until December 8, 1993, during the administration of President Bill Clinton. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.[citation needed]

Mosbacher was a member of President Reagan's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives 1981–83, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He then became Secretary of Commerce in 1989 after he directed the George H. W. Bush 1988 Presidential Election Campaign. He also served as a Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2008, he was the general chairman of John McCain's bid for the White House.[citation needed]

Business interests

Mosbacher was a charter member and past Chairman of the All American Wildcatters Association, and served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Petroleum Institute. He was former Director of Texas Commerce Bank and also of New York Life Insurance Company. Mosbacher was a former President of the American Association of Petroleum Landmen, as well as a former chairman of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.[citation needed]

In 1989, Mosbacher received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston. He was Trustee Emeritus of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, and President of the Board of Odyssey Academy, a public charter school located in Galveston, Texas.[15]

Family and personal life

Mosbacher's brother was Emil "Bus" Mosbacher, Jr., who successfully defended the America's Cup as skipper of the Weatherly in 1962 and again in 1967 as skipper of the Intrepid.

Mosbacher was married four times:

Eldest daughter Diane "Dee" Mosbacher, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist and prominent lesbian activist. She is the Academy Award nominated co-producer/director of Straight from the Heart (1994 film) and 8 other award-winning documentary films about homophobia. In 1992, Robert Mosbacher, Sr. was the first Republican Campaign Chair to meet with leaders from the National Lesbian Gay Task Force.[16]

His son, Robert Mosbacher, Jr., is a Houston businessman and a former Republican politician who headed the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Death and burial

On January 24, 2010, Mosbacher died of pancreatic cancer at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the age of 82.[17][18] He was buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C..[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hershey, Jr., Robert D. (2010-01-24). "Robert A. Mosbacher, 82, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Blumenfeld, Laura (1992-09-03). "The Lesbian in the GOP Family – Robert Mosbacher is Caught Between The Party Line and His Daughter Diane". Washington Post. p. D1.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ "Mosbacher First in Midget Sailing". The New York Times. 1940-08-20. p. 26.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ Rogin, Gilbert (1962-09-10). "Smiling Wizard Of The Cup Defense". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  7. ^ "Bob Mosbacher" 10 (20). Sports Illustrated. 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Kings Of The Class-boat Sailors" 10 (20). Sports Illustrated. 1959-05-18. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Mosbacher Wins Sailing Crown". The Washington Post. 1969-10-06. p. B4.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  10. ^ Sailing Smart, by Buddy Melges
  11. ^ Advanced Racing Tactics, by Stuart H. Walker
  12. ^ History of the Southern Yacht Club By Flora K. Scheib
  13. ^ "Houston Businessman to Head Ford 1976 Fund-Raising Drive". The New York Times. 1975-12-04. p. 34.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  14. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook Vol. 86 (2010), p. 81
  15. ^ Board of Odyssey Academy
  16. ^ Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook (2002), by Raymond Smith, p. 151.
  17. ^ Ex-US Commerce Secretary Mosbacher Dies in Texas ABC News, Associated Press story. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
  18. ^ Tolson, Mike. "Oilman, GOP stalwart Mosbacher dies at 82." Houston Chronicle. January 24, 2010. Retrieved on January 24, 2010.
  19. ^ Robert Adam Mosbacher, Sr at Find a Grave

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Verity
United States Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by
Barbara Franklin