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Michael V. Forrestal
Lieutenant, United States Navy
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From a contemporary news report:

"After work with the Marshall Plan in Paris and graduation from Harvard Law School in 1953, he joined the New York law firm of Shearman and Sterling. In 1962 he went to Washington, D.C. as a member of the small, elite National Security Council staff under McGeorge Bundy in the Administration of President John F. Kennedy. In Washington, he lived with the Averell Harriman's, who, since his father's death, had taken him under their wing almost like an adopted son. After JFK's assassination in 1963, he was back in his New York law practice, where he remained for the next twenty-five years as a partner and later senior partner of the firm.

"He worked quietly and effectively to promote trade and better understanding between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. He was President of the US-USSR Trade Council (1978-80) nd later was founder of the American Trade Consortium, which sought to arrange joint ventures with Soviet commercial interests. He served as President of the Board of Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy and was also a long-time patron of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as an avid deepwater sailor who voyaged extensively in the Caribbean and other seas of the world. He never married.

"He died instantly on January 11, 1989 of an aneurysm while chairing a committee of the governing board of Lincoln Center. He was an international lawyer and former Government official who frequently served as an intermediary seeking to improve relations between the U.S. and the USSR. He was 61 and lived in Manhattan. He was stricken while the committee was discussing a search for a director to succeed Bruce Crawford, who will leave that post later this year. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead. At his death, he was Senior Partner of Shearman and Sterling, a law firm which specializes in international finance and arbitration of international disputes. Much of his work centered on the oil and gas business and for more than 2 decades he was the legal adviser to Sonatrach, the Alegerian Oil Company.

"For many years, Forrestal, who was a son of James Vincent Forrestal, the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, acted in a quiet way to increase friendly contacts between the superpowers. His interest in foreign affairs, and in the Soviet Union in particular, dated from his Naval service. He received a commission in the United States Navy in 1946, at the age of 18, and was appointed Assistant Naval Attache in Moscow under Ambassador W. Averill Harriman. He also served as Secretary to the Quadripartite Naval Directorate of the Allied Control Council in Berlin. From 1948 to 1950 he was Deputy Director of the East-West Trade Division of the U.S. European Cooperation Administration. From 1962 to 1965, while a member of the senior staff of the National Security Council, he dealt with Asian affairs and ws a participant in early decisions relating to the U.S. military presence in Vietnam.

"Born in New York City, he graduated from Phillips-Exeter Academy before joining the Navy. He attended Princeton briefly in 1949 before earning a law degree from Harvard four years later. He joined Shearman and Sterling in 1953 and became a partner in 1960. A man of many interests, he was an avid sailor, participating in many voyages along the East Coast of the U.S., in the Caribbean and in other parts of the world. His lifelong interest in young people was reflected in his service as President of the Board of Trustees of Philipps-Exeter. At his death, he was trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a director of the Institute of East-West Studies. In addition to serving as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Opera Association, he was a director of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He was survived by a niece, Francesca C. Forrestal. Alexandria Whitney, for many years a friend and companion of his, said yesterday that a memorial service for him would be held next week at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City."

He is buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery, along with his father, mother and brother, Peter O. Forrestal.


Updated: 10 September 2002 Updated: 14 June 2003  Updated: 17 September 2005