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In Memoriam: Fred Monroe Zeder



zeder2
Picture by J. Ngiraibuuch, Saipan 1975

  • Former Director, Office of Territorial Affairs

  • Former Ambassador and President's Representative, Micronesian status negotiations

  • Former President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

  • Former member of the board of directors of the U.S. Air Force Academy

  • Former trustee of the George H.W. Bush Library

Ambassador Fred Monroe Zeder II, whose distinguished career spanned both public and private sectors, died March 12 at the age of 82 in Pebble Beach, California, following a brief illness.

A fighter pilot in World War II, Zeder participated in the U.S. invasion and repatriation of Attu and Kiska Islands in the North Pacific. He flew both P-40 and P-38 fighters, retiring from the Air Force Reserve in 1951 with the rank of major.  Zeder was familiar with high speeds.  In 1941, he won a national hydroplane racing championship.  He was also a Golden Gloves semifinalist. was admitted to the Young Presidents’ Organization in 1960.University of Michigan.  His roommate was Prescott Bush, brother of George H. Bush.   Gerald Ford was the university's star football player at the time.  After the war,  Zeder received his degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.  His first enterprise was Zeder Talbott, Inc., an advertising and marketing company based in Los Angeles.

In 1960, Zeder moved to Connecticut to create the Chrysler-Zeder sports car.  One hundred were made in Italy (picture).  He obtained an interest in cars from his father who worked with Walter Chrysler in 1924 as head of engineering at the  newly formed Chrysler-Zeder Corporation.  Previous to this effort, his father had developed the "Zeder Car" at Studebaker which featured a high compression engine.

From 1956 to 1975, Zeder was chairman and CEO of Hydrometals Corporation, a diversified manufacturing company that he moved from New York to Dallas in the early 1960s. He brought the company from near bankruptcy to an international business listed on the New York stock exchange.  The company was sold to Wallace Murray Co. in 1979.  In 1960, he was admitted to the Young Presidents’ Organization. He served as chairman of the board of Paradise Cruise Corporation in Hawaii from 1978 to the present.

Zeder first entered government service in 1971 when elected to the City Council in Dallas, Texas, where he also served on the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport Board.

President Gerald Ford appointed Zeder in 1974 to serve in the U.S. Department of the Interior as director of the Office of Territorial Affairs with oversight for U.S. policy and programs relating to American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

In 1982, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Zeder as the President’s personal representative for Micronesian status negotiations. Holding the rank of ambassador, Zeder negotiated the historic Compact of Free Association.  The Compact was a unique agreement that created a relationship of Free Association between the U.S. and the independent countries of the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  The agreement facilitated the movement of the Island groups from governmental control under the UN Trusteeship of the Pacific Islands(TTPI) administered by The U.S. to the status of newly independent countries.  The uniqueness of the Compacts that Zeder fostered, is found in the close working relationship between the U.S. and the Compact countries while allowing their complete independence and self-government.  The Compacts were detailed agreements that provide funding and technical assistance while permitting the citizens of Compact countries to live, obtain education and work in the U.S.  The U.S. also provides military security that mutually benefits the U.S. and the Compact countries.

Approval of the Compacts by Congress also cleared the way for a fourth island group, the Marianas Islands, to become a Commonwealth of the U.S. 

Zeder was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1988 as president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In this role, Zeder promoted private investment and supported U.S. national interests in 130 countries. Under his leadership, OPIC played a major role on behalf of President Bush in supporting the Solidarity Union reform movement that ended communist rule in Poland. Following Poland, Zeder and OPIC turned their attention to each Eastern European country that emerged from communist rule. Similar efforts were made in the Soviet Union, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Zeder served as district director of the National Alliance of Businessmen, vice chairman of the Committee of Publicly Owned Companies, and a founding member of the World Business Council. He served as a special advisor to the Fund for America’s Future from 1987 to 1988, a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a trustee of the George H. W. Bush Library. He was also a decorated Knight of Malta.

Zeder was married to the late Martha Blood for 57 years, with whom he had five children. In 2001 he married Dorothy Post Rodgers.