Melvin R. LairdMelvin R. Laird
A young Melvin R. Laird in Naval Uniform
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Melvin R. Laird


Melvin R. Laird is Senior Counselor for National and International Affairs for the Reader's Digest Association, Inc. He formerly served as U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1968-73; Counselor to the President for Domestic Affairs, 1973-74; and nine terms in the U.S. Congress representing Wisconsin's Seventh Congressional District, where he was Chairman, Republican House Minority, member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Republican Coordinating Council. Prior to this service, he was a member of the Wisconsin Senate, 1946-52; Chairman, Wisconsin Legislative Council and served in the U.S. Navy, 1942-1946 in the Pacific Fleet with Task Force 38 and 58.

Mr. Laird is a member of the Director's Advisory Council of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He has performed distinguished service on the following Boards of Directors:

  • Public Oversight Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Vice-Chairman, 11/97 to 10/99)
  • American Express/IDS Mutual Funds Group
  • Communications Satellite Corporation (Chairman 1992-1996)
  • Martin Marietta
  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Phillips Petroleum Company
  • Purolator Company
  • The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
  • DeWitt and Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds
  • Science Applications International Corp.
  • Staff Leasing, Inc.
  • T-COM, LLP.

He has been active on some 27 nonprofit organizations, which include:

  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • The George Washington University
  • Airlie Foundation
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Laird Youth Leadership Foundation
  • Laird Foundation for Historic Preservation
  • The Wolf Trap Farm for the Performing Arts (Chairman 1974-75)
  • World Rehabilitation Fund
  • Advisory Board to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO)
  • Chairman, President Reagan's 1987-88 Moscow Assessment Review Panel
  • Chairman, National Election Commission, 1986
  • Co-Chairman, Platform Committee of the Republican National Convention, 1960, Chairman, 1964.

Mr. Laird has been the recipient of over 300 awards and honorary degrees. Among them are:

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1974
  • Decorated Order of Merit - First Class, Federal Republic of Germany
  • Commander, National Order Legion of Honor, France
  • 15th Annual Albert Lasker Public Service Award
  • Doctor of Philanthropy and Human Services, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Lincoln College
  • Doctor of Political Science, University of the Pacific
  • Doctor of Laws, University of Wisconsin
  • Doctor of Military Medical History, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Man of the Year awards, American Cancer Society, National Association of Mental Health
  • Humanitarian Award, John E. Fogarty Foundation for the Mentally Retarded, 1974
  • The Harry S. Truman Award for distinguished service in defense, 1985

Mr. Laird received a BA from Carleton College and is author of 'A House Divided: America's Strategy Gap', 1962. He is also Editor: The Conservative Papers, 1964 and Republican Papers, 1968.

He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans; Order of the Purple Heart; 40 and 8; American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; 33rd Degree Mason; Elder of the Presbyterian Church; Burning Tree Club; and Augusta National Golf Club.

Mr. Laird was born September 1, 1922. In 1945, he married the late Barbara Masters Laird. He has four children (John O. Laird, Alison Laird-Large, David Laird, and Kimberly Dalgleish), and five grandchildren (Rady Large, John David Large, Connor Laird, Harrison Laird, and Carly Dalgleish). In 1993 he married Carole Fleischman.

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With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace and Politics
The authorized biography of Melvin Laird.
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