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Sumner Gerard Jr. MBE (July 15, 1916 – February 24, 2005) was an American businessman, politician, and diplomat. Born in New York to a prominent family descended from Huguenots, Gerard attended Groton School and Trinity College, Cambridge. After serving in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps during World War II, he moved to Montana and became involved in business, including mining and ranching, and politics.

Sumner Gerard

United States Ambassador to Jamaica
In office
June 4, 1974 – April 15, 1977
PresidentRichard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Preceded byVincent de Roulet
Succeeded byFrederick Irving
Montana Senate Minority Leader
In office
Preceded byJ. S. Brenner
Succeeded byJean Turnage
Member of the Montana Senate from Madison County
In office
Montana House Minority Leader
In office
Preceded byRudy Juedeman
Succeeded byJames P. Lucas
Member of the Montana House of Representatives from Madison County
In office
Personal details
BornJuly 15, 1916
Melville, New York, United States
DiedFebruary 24, 2005 (aged 88)
Vero Beach, Florida, United States
Political partyRepublican
Louise Grosvenor
(m. 1945; div. 1966)

Teresa Dabrowska
(m. 1966; div. 2004)
ParentsSumner Gerard
Helen Coster
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge (BA, MA)
AwardsOrder of the British Empire
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
 United States Navy
 United States Marine Corps
Years of service1940–1945
RankUS-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsArmy Commendation Medal

During the 1950s and 1960s, he was a member of both the Montana House of Representatives and the Montana Senate, serving as Republican minority leader in both. In 1974, President Richard Nixon appointed him United States Ambassador to Jamaica, a position he held through the administration of President Gerald Ford, leaving in 1977. He then moved to Florida, serving as an adjunct professor of marine archaeology at the University of Miami and sponsoring and participating in underwater archaeology expeditions. He died in 2005 in Vero Beach, Florida, aged 88.


Early life and educationEdit

Gerard was born in Melville, New York, a hamlet in the Long Island town of Huntington.[1][2] Born to Sumner Gerard and Helen Coster, he had two brothers, James Watson Gerard and Charles Henry Coster Gerard.[3][4][5]

His paternal ancestors, the Gerards, were French Huguenots who emigrated to New York in 1776 after several generations in Scotland.[5] One of his ancestors from the maternal side of the Gerard family was Increase Sumner, Governor of Massachusetts and Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. James W. Gerard, the United States Ambassador to Germany during World War I, was his uncle.[5] The family became prominent in business, law, and politics.[5][6] Gerard Avenue in The Bronx is named for them.[1] The Gerard family were members of the Episcopal Church.[4][6][7]

Gerard graduated from the Groton School, a private boarding secondary school in Groton, Massachusetts.[1][2][7] He attended Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1937 and a Master of Arts in 1939.[1][6][7][2]

World War II serviceEdit

During World War II, Gerard served in the United States Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.[1][7][8] He started out as a buck private in the Army Air Corps, spent time as a parachutist, and ended his service four years later as an infantry captain of intelligence in the Marines.[1][8] His service spanned such locations as the Middle East and North Africa, Washington, D.C., China, Burma, and California.[2][8] In 1942, he flew with Winston Churchill to Moscow, Soviet Union, to meet Joseph Stalin.[2] Gerard received the Army Commendation Medal and the Order of the British Empire.[8]



After the war 1940s, Gerard became involved in his family's real estate business, the Aeon Realty Company, with interests in Manhattan, Long Island, and New Jersey.[1][7] However, Gerard wished to move to the western United States.[9] He began studying ranching, and in 1947 toured several western states, deciding on Montana.[9] In 1948, he purchased what is now known as the Bar 7 Ranch in Ennis,[9] Montana, moving there with his family in 1949.[1][2] Gerard operated the ranch as both a home and a livestock operation, raising cattle and horses.[9] He also owned another ranch in the town of Dillon.[2][7] However, the ranch was never profitable, and Gerard received assistance from his father through monies and stocks in order to help him reduce with his significant debt.[9]

Thanks to his father's financial assistance as well as that of a company owned by his family, Gerard was able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, covering ranch expenses, educational expenses for his children, and costs of operating a private airplaine.[9] In addition to ranching, Gerard had business interests in Billings and Bozeman,[2][7] and was a mining executive for Newmont Resources and a director of Cardinal Petroleum, both based in Billings.[1]


Sometime after moving to Montana, Gerard became involved in state politics.[1][2][5][9] In 1954, he was elected to the Montana Legislature as a Republican representing Madison County, with his term beginning in 1955.[2][6][7][9] He was elected to three terms in the House, serving in his final term as minority leader from 1959 to 1961.[1][9][10][11]

On December 17, 1959, Gerard announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate, and said:

[I am] convinced that Montana must look and think ahead, or we will forfeit our potential. I intend to file for nomination to the U.S. Senate with the hope that Montana will send new blood with a fresh outlook to Washington to best represent all Montanans."[8]

However, Gerard lost the nomination in the Republican primary, finishing second in a six-way race, earning 27% of the vote, compared to 39% of votes for nominee Orvin B. Fjare.[6][9] His father helped fund his campaign, which cost $20,000.[9] One source writes that he may have lost in the primary "because Montanans did not believe him to be authentically Montanan."[6]

In 1962, Gerard earned the Republican nomination for the Montana Senate from Madison County.[12] He won the election, serving in the Senate from 1962 to 1966.[1][2][5][7] He was elected minority leader, serving in that capacity from 1965 to 1966.[1][11]


In 1969, Gerard left Montana to pursue a career as a diplomat,[2][7] and relocated temporarily to New Jersey.[13] In 1969, the Nixon administration sent him to Rome, Italy, as a delegate to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.[1][2][7] In 1970, he was named mission director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Tunisia, a position he held until 1974.[1][2][14] On March 22, 1974, President Richard Nixon appointed him United States Ambassador to Jamaica, and he presented credentials on June 4, 1974.[13] He served as ambassador through the presidency of Gerald Ford and the beginning of the Carter administration, leaving the position in 1977.[1][2][5][6][13][15]

Later careerEdit

After leaving his ambassadorship, Gerard relocated to Florida from New Jersey.[1] He was an active benefactor of marine biology and a frequent sponsor of underwater archaeological expeditions and in 1977 became an adjunct professor of maritime archaeology at the University of Miami.[1][2]

Personal lifeEdit

Gerard was married twice: first to Louise Taft Grosvenor in 1944, before divorcing in 1966, and next to Teresa Dabrowska, a native of Warsaw, Poland,[14] whom he married in the 1960s and divorced in 2004.[1][2][7] He had five children with his first wife: Jenny, Molly, Helen, Anne, and Sumner.[1][2][7]


Gerard died of natural causes in a hospital in Vero Beach, Florida, on February 24, 2005.[1][2][7] His death was announced by his son, also named Sumner.[1][2][7] A memorial service was held at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce, Florida, on March 1, before an afternoon funeral service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Manhattan on March 3.[1][2][7] The interment was private.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Saxon, Wolfgang (2005-03-01). "Sumner Gerard, 88, Legislator in Montana and Ambassador, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Former diplomat Sumner Gerard dies". The Montana Standard. February 25, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sumner K Gerard (1874 - 1966) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  4. ^ a b "Helen Coster Train (1889 - 1982) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Dupont, Ron. "Vernon's Coster Gerard: A remembrance (Part I)". Archived from the original on 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Tidball, Eugene (2008). "The Seminal Years of the Montana Legislative Council 1957-1965". Montana: The Magazine of Western History. 58: 52. JSTOR 25485689.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Helena, (The Associated Press) (2005-02-27). "Former diplomat Sumner Gerard dead at 88". Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Gerard to Seek GOP Nomination U.S. Senator". The Dillon Daily Tribune. December 17, 1959. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "ESTATE OF GERARD v. COMMISSIONER | 57 T.C. 749 (1972) |". Leagle. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  10. ^ Gerard, Sumner (September 18, 1962). "Excerpts about the library from an editorial by Sumner Gerard in the Daily Missoulian". The Daily Missoulian. University of Montana-Missoula. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Montana Legislature - Leadership 1889-Present". Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  12. ^ "Democrats Send 20 Senate Candidates Into Finals". The Independent Record. June 7, 1962. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Sumner Gerard - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  14. ^ a b "Former Montana State Senator Returns to AID Tunisia Post". The Independent Record. February 8, 1971. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  15. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean, 1973–1976 - Office of the Historian". Retrieved 2017-03-17.