NewsUSA WrestlingInternationalCollegeHigh School & YouthUSAW

Outstanding American honoree and past Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 88, passes away

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

STILLWATER, Okla. – The National Wrestling Hall of Fame was saddened to learn that Donald Rumsfeld, honored by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an Outstanding American in the Charter Class of 1992, passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 88.

“On behalf of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Governors and staff, I want to express our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Donald Rumsfeld,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “Our country has lost a great American and patriot while wrestling has lost a former high school, college and Olympic level competitor who became a great fan and advocate of our great sport.”

Rumsfeld wrestled for New Trier High School in Illinois and was captain of his state championship team. At Princeton, he was team captain and a three-time place winner in the Eastern Intercollegiates.

His family shared the news Wednesday.

"It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico. History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country."

Outstanding Americans recognized by the Hall of Fame demonstrate wrestling’s pride in those who have used the disciplines of the sport to launch notable careers in other walks of life, such as science and technology, business and industry, government and the military, and the arts and humanities.

When he became the 13th Secretary of Defense in 1975, at age 43 the youngest in our country's history, Rumsfeld already had served in the United States government for more than a dozen years.

He was elected to the House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962, at age of 30, and served four terms. Rumsfeld was U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1973-74 and was Chief of Staff of the White House during President Ford's administration.

After leaving government service, he became chief executive officer, president, then chairman of G. D. Searle & Co., worldwide pharmaceutical company, from 1977 to 1985. He was the President's special envoy to the Middle East in 1983 and 1984.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, holds honorary doctoral degrees from eight universities, and has been presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Rumsfeld served as chairman of Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Studies, and a member of the National Economic Commission and the National Park Foundation board of directors. He served as chief executive officer and president of the G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company from 1977 until 1985 and as CEO of the General Instrument Corporation from 1990 until 1993.

He returned as Secretary of Defense in 2001, at age 74 the oldest in history, after serving as chairman of Gilead Sciences, Inc.

National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum

America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation and now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. It also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport. For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit