|Intro||American businessman and diplomat|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||31 July 1915, Greenville, Washington County, Mississippi, USA|
|Death||2 December 1963, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA (aged 48 years)|
Edward Grant Stockdale (July 31, 1915 – December 2, 1963), known as Grant Stockdale, was a Florida businessman and friend of President John F. Kennedy who served as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 1961 to 1962.
Born Edward Grant Stockdale in 1915, he was an Episcopalian from Greenville, Mississippi. He attended the University of Miami, was voted President of his freshman class, was reelected President of his sophomore class, served as President, Phi Alpha fraternity, and was the first University of Miami graduate to become a United States Ambassador. He played varsity football in 1938 and 1939, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. He worked as a salesman and then as a manager for a venetian blind company. He then worked in real estate and was elected President of the Miami Junior Chamber of Commerce. During World War II he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific. He left the service as a 1st Lieutenant and remained a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
Stockdale was a Democrat and friend of George Smathers, whom he helped elect to Congress in 1946. Stockdale became Smathers' administrative assistant briefly and served in the Florida Legislature from 1948 to 1949. While serving in the Florida House of Representatives, he introduced the Women's Jury Bill to provide for jury service by women, reluctantly accepted an amendment that instead allowed women to register for jury service, and secured the bill's passage by persuading the governor to withdraw his veto of the legislation. He also introduced the first anti-Ku Klux Klan legislation in a southern state, designed to prohibit the wearing of masks and hoods in public. He reported receiving anonymous telephone calls telling him "leave this thing alone or you'll be sorry." He rejected support for the bill offered by the Communist-dominated Miami Civil Rights Congress. He also secured House passage of a Birth Secrecy Bill that made the birth certificates of illegitimate children confidential. He also led a successful campaign against a tax on hotels and rooming houses and supported legislation to increase criminal penalties for child molestation. He lost the Democratic primary for his House seat in May 1950 to Dante Fascell.
Through Smathers, Stockdale met John F. Kennedy, a young Congressman, in 1949. Stockdale served on the Dade County Commission from 1952 to 1956. He staged a one-man revolt in September 1954 by making an issue of the Commission's practice of conducting closed-door meetings and requiring unanimous votes. In 1955 he proposed the development of a convention hall to bring national conventions and sporting events to Miami and Miami Beach and a variety of other projects.
Stockdale later worked in real estate in Miami. President Kennedy visited him in Florida frequently before becoming president. In 1959 and 1960 Stockdale headed the Florida State committee to elect John F. Kennedy president. When Smathers decided to go to the 1960 Democratic National Convention as the favorite son candidate of the Florida delegation, part of an effort aimed at securing the nomination for Kennedy, he urged Stockdale to join the delegation: "[I]t would appear to me that the best way you can be helpful to Jack Kennedy is to come on out with us ... where the fight will be held. You can't do him any good at home ... you must be where your voice can be heard and your presence felt." Stockdale campaigned for him in West Virginia, Oregon, and New York, and he was a member of the Democratic Party National Finance Committee.
Ambassador to Ireland
At the start of the Kennedy administration, Newsweek magazine described Stockdale as "an ardent New Frontiersman and sometime participant in Kennedy touch-football games". Kennedy nominated Stockdale to serve as Ambassador to Ireland in February 1961. Time magazine criticized Kennedy for nominating Stockdale after promising during the campaign to appoint ambassadors on the basis of ability alone. It asked "where reward stopped and ability began". The Senate confirmed the appointment on March 28, 1961.
In April, 1961, just before leaving for Ireland, Stockdale was sued by a business rival that claimed he had used "undue influence" to win government contracts for a Miami vending machines company in which he held stock. The Dade County Circuit Court dismissed that suit as "frivolous" and the Florida Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that dismissal. Congress later investigated those vending machine companies as part of the Bobby Baker scandal investigations into bribery of members of Congress, though Stockdale was not a target of the investigation. When interviewed by the Miami Herald during the Baker investigation, Stockdale said: "I am a business man, but I still consider myself a quasi-public figure. I am very meticulous in my dealings."
Stockdale presented his credentials in Dublin on May 17, 1961, and served until July 7, 1962.
Return to private life
After his time as ambassador, Stockdale returned to real estate and worked in public relations for the American Canteen Company. He also maintained his friendship with Kennedy. On January 1, 1963, Stockdale sat with Kennedy to watch the Orange Bowl game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oklahoma Sooners, for which the President performed the opening coin toss. Stockdale was invited by Kennedy to participate in the May 30, 1963, Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as the President laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Following the ceremonies, Kennedy and Stockdale visited the grave of Lieutenant James Forrestal, first United States Secretary of Defense and former Secretary of the Navy.
On November 25, 1963, Stockdale attended the funeral of President Kennedy at the invitation of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Personal life and death
In 1954, Stockdale was named a member of Iron Arrow, an honorary organization of University of Miami graduates. He also served terms as president of the University of Miami Alumni Association and the Miami Jaycees.
He was married to the poet Alice Boyd Stockdale, née Magruder. He had 2 sons and 3 daughters.
Stockdale died in a fall from his office on the 13th floor of the DuPont Building in Miami, Florida, on December 2, 1963, one week after the funeral and just ten days after the assassination of President Kennedy. Police termed it a suicide, but no suicide note was found. Larry King later reported speaking to him the day of the assassination and finding him "disconsolate to the point where he couldn't get a word out".
Alice Boyd Stockdale's book of poetry, To Ireland, with Love, was published by Doubleday & Company in 1964 and dedicated to her husband: "For Grant with whom, hand in hand, I walked through Phoenix Park ... and who will always walk with me." President Kennedy had urged her to publish her poems.