Robert Finch (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Robert H. Finch)
Robert Finch
Counselor to the President
In office
June 23, 1970 – December 15, 1972
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byBryce Harlow
Pat Moynihan
Succeeded byAnne Armstrong
8th United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
In office
January 21, 1969 – June 23, 1970
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byWilbur J. Cohen
Succeeded byElliot Richardson
38th Lieutenant Governor of California
In office
January 2, 1967 – January 21, 1969
GovernorRonald Reagan
Preceded byGlenn M. Anderson
Succeeded byEdwin Reinecke
Personal details
Robert Hutchinson Finch

(1925-10-09)October 9, 1925
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.
DiedOctober 10, 1995(1995-10-10) (aged 70)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park
Political partyRepublican
SpouseCarol Crothers (m. 1946)
EducationOccidental College (BA)
University of Southern California (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service1951–1953
Battles/warsKorean War

Robert Hutchinson Finch (October 9, 1925 – October 10, 1995) was a Republican politician from La Canada Flintridge, California. In 1967, he served as the 38th Lieutenant Governor of California. Following Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968, he was appointed Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1969. He was the Counselor to the President from 1970 until 1972. During the 1976 California United States Senate election, he lost in the Republican primary to S.I. Hayakawa.

Early life and education[edit]

Finch was born in Tempe, Arizona. He was the son of Robert L. Finch, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, and his wife, Gladys Hutchinson. Finch was enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II. He married the former Carol Crothers on February 14, 1946; they had three daughters and one son: Maureen F. Shaw, Kevin Finch, Priscilla Finch and Cathleen F. Morser.[1]

After serving in the Marines briefly during World War II, Finch entered Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he graduated in 1947 with a bachelor's degree. After the graduation from Occidental College in 1947,[2] went to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an administrative aide Congressman Norris Poulson, representative from California. During this time, he met and became friendly with freshman Congressman and future president Richard Nixon.[1] Partly at Nixon's suggestion, Mr. Finch returned to California to study law at the University of Southern California, where he took his LL.B. degree in 1951.


Finch in a group photo of Nixon's cabinet on June 16, 1972, far left in the back row.

He had worked on the Norris Poulson election campaign in 1946, and on Nixon's campaign in 1948.[3] He returned to Southern California and earned his LL.B at the University of Southern California Law School in 1951.[4]

He was a Marine officer during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.[4] [5] He ran for the Congress unsuccessfully in 1952 and in 1954 against Democrat Cecil R. King,[6] who practiced law in Pasadena, and was the chairman of the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee, from 1956 to 1958.[3] He returned to Washington as Vice-President Nixon's aide in 1958.[6]

He was Nixon's campaign manager in the 1960 presidential campaign, against Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy.

In 1964, Finch managed U.S. Sen. George Murphy's victorious campaign over Pierre Salinger.[3] In 1966, Finch was elected the 38th Lieutenant Governor of California. He received more votes than Ronald Reagan, who was elected Governor at the same time. In 1968, Finch was the senior adviser in Nixon's presidential campaign and was appointed Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. In 1970, Finch left the HEW to be Counselor to the President. He left the White House on December 15, 1972,[3] to practice law in Pasadena, and he stayed involved in the Republican politics. Even though Finch had no involvement in the Watergate scandal, references to it dimmed his efforts for elective office.[3]

He was an unsuccessful primary candidate for U.S. Senate in the 1976 California election against S.I. Hayakawa, who went on to win the general election.[6] During the 1968 presidential election, Finch was Nixon's first choice as his vice presidential running mate,[7] but Finch declined and Nixon then chose Governor of Maryland Spiro Agnew. A Nixon-Finch ticket was possible because, although Nixon was born in California, and had represented California in Congress, during the 1968 election he was a resident of New York, so California's electors could have cast their votes for both men. If both had been California residents at the time, California's electors could have voted for only one of them.

Following Nixon's election, Finch was given his choice in the new Cabinet, and he selected Secretary of HEW because of his long interest in health and education issues. Finch was more liberal than Nixon, especially on social issues, but political differences never affected their long and close relationship, with the two staying in contact until Nixon's death in April 1994.


Finch died of a heart attack, in Pasadena, California, on October 10, 1995, a day after his 70th birthday. He is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Social Security Online History Pages". Retrieved 2012-10-01. Robert Finch was born in Tempe, Arizona. After being admitted to the California bar, Finch practiced law until 1958 when he went back to Washington as administrative assistant to Vice-President Nixon. In 1960, Mr. Finch managed Vice-President Nixon's unsuccessful campaign for President of the United States. In 1966, he was elected as Lieutenant Governor of California, serving under Governor Ronald Reagan until 1969, when he accepted a post in the Nixon Cabinet as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, a position he held until 1970.
  2. ^ "Occidental College – Past Award Recipients". Occidental College. Retrieved 2012-10-01. The Alumni Seal Award, the highest honor presented by the Alumni Association, was established in 1965 to pay tribute to alumni who, through concern for their profession, community or College, have distinguished themselves and thereby brought honor to Occidental College
  3. ^ a b c d e Oliver, Myrna (October 11, 1995). "Robert H. Finch, Lt. Gov. Under Reagan, Dies : Politics: Leader in California GOP was 70. He also served in Nixon's Cabinet and as President's special counselor and campaign manager". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  4. ^ a b "Robert H. Finch – Biographical Note". Nixon Presidential Library & Museum. Archived from the original on 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  5. ^ "Finch Turned Down VP Job, Writer Says", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 7, 1969, p2
  6. ^ a b c Van Gelder, Lawrence (October 12, 1995). "Robert F. Finch, 70, Nixon Aide And Former Secretary of Health". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  7. ^ Edge, Wally (April 11, 2008). "Friday political trivia". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  8. ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (1995-10-12). "Robert F. Finch, 70, Nixon Aide And Former Secretary of Health". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-06-15.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates facts obtained from: Lawrence Kestenbaum, The Political Graveyard

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of California
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
Succeeded by
Preceded by Counselor to the President
Served alongside: Donald Rumsfeld
Succeeded by
Preceded by