Biography and History

Whiting Willauer (1906-1962, Class of 1928), was born in New York, New York, received his A.B. from Princeton University and his law degree from Harvard University. Willauer married Louise Russell in June of 1930. They had three children, Sally, Whiting, Jr. and Thomas.

Following law school Willauer worked for the law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould for seven years practicing admiralty law. In 1939 he accepted a position as Special Attorney with the United States Civil Aeronautics Board where he was put in charge of the conduct of air mail rate hearings and the other matters involving the Washington National Airport. From 1939 through 1940 Willauer worked as an attorney in the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice investigating judicial corruption. While in this position, Willauer also served as a special assistant to the United States Attorney General and conducted the first grand jury investigation into Nazi propaganda. In 1941 Willauer served as Special Counsel for the Federal Power Commission. In this capacity Willauer worked on the proposed St. Lawrence Seaway legislation.

In July 1941 Willauer took a position with China Defense Supplies, Inc. (CDS, Inc.), the official representative of the Chinese government in lend-lease matters. Willauer worked as assistant to T.V. Soong, President of CDS, Inc. It was this job that launched Willauer's career in Asia. While in China Willauer met Claire L. Chennault with whom he founded the American Volunteer Group, also known as the “Flying Tigers”, and advised Chennault on matters related to this organization.

In 1944 Willauer was assigned a new position as Director, Far East and Special Territories Branch of the Foreign Economic Administration. In 1946 Willauer was an advisor to the director on reconstruction problems in China for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).

During this time, beginning in 1946, Willauer and Chennault formed the Civil Air Transport (CAT) company. Willauer served as executive vice-president, and later as president and vice-chair of the board. CAT was a civilian airline which transported supplies and individuals throughout China and Asia, often taking risks that other airlines refused to take. During the war in China between the Communists and the Nationalists, CAT aided the Nationalists in transporting supplies to both the army and to civilians. CAT, Inc. was eventually bought by the U.S. government (the C.I.A.) in the late 40s/early 50s. Following a lawsuit between CAT, Inc. and another Chinese airline, Central Air Transport, Corp. (CATC) Willauer left China and returned to the United States.

From 1954 to 1958 Willauer served as United States Ambassador to Honduras, and from 1958 to 1961 he served as United States Ambassador to Costa Rica. During his ambassadorship to Costa Rica, Willauer served as a delegate to the meeting of foreign ministers for the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1960 and as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in October 1960. In July 1961 Willauer gave testimony to the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee Investigation on the Bay of Pigs incident in Cuba.

Whiting Willauer died at age 56 in 1962. He was survived by his wife, Louise, and his daughter Sally and son Whiting, Jr.

Source: From the finding aid for MC142