William Warren Scranton

Obituary
  •  
    - Valenda Newell
  • "Many recall the funeral of a special man. As Bill, Jr...."
    - Ray Allen
  • "My deepest condolences to the Scranton family for their..."
    - Jan McAndrew Henry
  • "Susan and family, Sorry to hear about your dad's passing. ..."
    - Ronald Lewis
  • "I would like to express my deepest feelings of sorrow in..."
    - Lisa Ormiston Ryder

Former Governor William Warren Scranton, direct descendant of the founder of the city of Scranton, died July 28 in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 96 years old. Born on July 19, 1917, in Madison, Connecticut, he was the son of the late Marion Margery Scranton and Worthington Scranton. He will be remembered for his public service, his business expertise and his love of people. He was socially liberal, fiscally conservative, pro-environment, pro-campaign reform and anti-crime. His wife of 71 years is the former Mary L. Chamberlin.

Governor Scranton was educated at the Scranton Country Day School, the Fessenden School in Massachusetts and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale University in 1939 with honors and, after serving as a pilot in World War II, the Yale Law School in 1946. He received the Yale Law School Association Award of Merit in 1964.

In World War II, he volunteered as an Aviation Cadet and received his wings in 1942 as a Second Lieutenant. He served as a pilot in Brazil and Africa in 1942 and 1943. Returning to America, he was assigned to the Reno Army Air Base, establishing its initial section for training crews for the India/China hump. He retired from active duty in October 1945 but was a reservist until 1963 when he resigned with the rank of Colonel.

After the war, he returned to Scranton, joining the law firm of O'Malley, Harris, Harris and Warren and in 1947 was employed by the International Textbook Co., of which he became Vice President, later President of the Scranton Lackawanna Trust Co. and Chairman of the Northeastern Broadcasting Co. and the Northeastern Bank. He served on several local corporate boards including the Lackawanna Railroad, Glen Alden and the International Salt Co.

He was a prime mover in making the Community Chest a countywide organization, first called the Lackawanna United Fund and later the United Way, and served as Chairman of the 1957 campaign, which achieved a record high in pledges.

The Governor had an outstanding career in government, having served five Presidents since 1958. His government career began as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State Christian Herter in 1958; Congressman — 87th Congress, 1961-63; Governor of PA, 1963-67; United States Ambassador to the United Nations, 1976-77.

His Governorship of Pennsylvania was considered the model of integrity and accomplishment. He was quick to attack the many problems facing the Commonwealth. He re-organized the state education agency, created State Boards of Education, and the Departments of Mental Health and Community Development and instituted the most stringent strip mining regulations to date.

In campaigning for Governor, he and his associates drew up a "Platform for Pennsylvania," which outlined specific programs for employment, health, education, cleansing vestiges of the coal era, reforming welfare and civil service — all in detail. As Governor, he instituted these programs, follow- ing the platform assiduously.

Accordingly, a new statewide Business Council produced an employment program, which was totally implemented. Whereas Pennsylvania for previous decades had the second-worst unemployment rate in the nation, in his years jobs were created cutting the high rate every year so that by 1966, new all-time lows of 3% and less were the norm — lower than the national average then and continued lower than the national average ever since.

His administration created employment highs, health records, educational improvements on every level, increased teachers' salaries, established the master plan for higher education, initiated the Community College System, instigated welfare reform (President Kennedy adopted Pennsylvania's "Head Start" program for the nation), established civil service for 27,000 state employees, student loans, an enormous highway program, a statewide banking code and sound fiscal policy for the State Workmen's Insurance Fund and the Unemployment Compensation Fund. (In 1963 Pennsylvania's U.C. Fund was indebted to the Federal government for $900 million, $600 million more than any other state!).

His were termed "The Golden Years" of Pennsylvania.

He served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations in 1976-77. The Governor served on 10 Presidential Commissions including President Johnson's Commission on Insurance for Riot Torn Areas, the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament for Presidents Nixon and Ford, Chairman of the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, the President's Price Commission (both under President Nixon); he was U.S. Ambassador to the International Telecommunications Satellite System — INTELSAT, a member of President Ford's Transition Team in 1974, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (Presidents Ford and Carter), the President's Advisory Board on Ambassadorial Appointments and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board (President Carter), a member of the U.S. National Group in the Court of Permanent Arbitration and the President's Commission on a National Agenda for the Eighties. He was a member of many national organizations, including the Former Members of Congress, the American Philosophical Society, the Council of American Ambassadors, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Association of Former Ambassadors.

Governor Scranton served on the boards of many major American companies including American Express, Bethlehem Steel Corp., Cummins Engine Co., H.J. Heinz Co., IBM Corp., Mobil Corp., New York Life Insurance Co., Pan American World Airways, Scott Paper Co., Sun Oil Co. and The New York Times Co.

The Governor received 36 honorary degrees from colleges across America, including Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, University of Florida, University of Utah, Yale University and 30 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

Locally, Governor Scranton has touched every phase of life — he was extremely active in all efforts for industrial development in Lackawanna County, LIFE, SLIBCO, Scranton Plan, Chamber of Commerce, Stauffer Park, Keystone Industrial Park, Montage Park, the Mid-Valley Industrial Park and Steamtown. He was instrumental in establishing Trane, RCA, General Dynamics, Weston, Schott, Emery, Harper and Row, Metropolitan Life, Grumman, Procter & Gamble and many other leading industries in our area. He was an initiator of Leadership Lackawanna and Scranton Tomorrow. He was a major supporter of People Against Litter and will always be remembered for walking the streets of his namesake city picking up litter.

He served the University of Scranton in various capacities, was a Trustee at Keystone College and was an active supporter of the Worthington Scranton Campus of Penn State and Johnson College.

He was a member of the Scranton Club, the Country Club of Scranton, the Waverly Country Club and the Scranton Tennis Club.

There have been many comments made by various people during his career — Justice Potter Stewart described him as "A man of disarming modesty and urbane charm. A man of intellect, of discipline and of purpose."

President Eisenhower: "The way to get Bill Scranton to run is to tell him it is his duty. He isn't in politics for himself."

J.C. Humes: "William W. Scranton was one of the most popular Governors in the history of Pennsylvania and deservedly so. In a profession that seems to attract both bloated egos and quivering insecurity, Bill Scranton was a patrician with style and character."

Governor Tom Ridge: "Governor Scranton set the gold standard for Governors. The list of accomplishments is astonishing."

Governor Dick Thornburgh: "The example which Governor Scranton set is the pre-eminent role model for the conduct of the office."

To so many he will long be remembered for his interest in people, his love of our city, our state and indeed our nation.

He is survived by his four children, Susan Scranton Dawson, North Abington Twp.; William W. Scranton III and wife, Maryla, North Abington Twp.; Joseph C. Scranton and wife, Martha, Tecumsuh, Kansas; Peter K. Scranton and wife, Marcie, Los Angeles, California; and three granddaughters, Elizabeth Valosek, Julien and Caitlin Scranton; his secretary, Linda Keene; and longtime staff members including Louis Mastropasqua, Rufus Nichols, Beverly Yablonski and Lorraine White.

He was preceded in death by three sisters, Marion M. Isaacs, Katherine S. Rozendaal and Sara S. Linen.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Willary Foundation, P.O. Box 937, Scranton, PA 18503; or the Council on Foreign Relations, 58 E. 68th St., New York, NY 10065. A celebration of Governor Scranton's life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on August 14th in Covenant Presbyterian Church, 550 Madison Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
Published in Scranton Times on July 31, 2013
bullet 2013 bullet Politics bullet University of Florida bullet World War II