Henry Catto

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Person.png Henry CattoRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Henry Catto.png
BornDecember 6, 1930
DiedDecember 18, 2011 (Age 81)
Alma materTMI Episcopal, Williams College
Member ofBritish-North American Committee, Council on Foreign Relations/Historical Members

Employment.png Chief of Protocol of the United States Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
April 3, 1974 - – July 1, 1976
Succeeded byHenry Catto, Joseph Verner Reed, Shirley Temple"strong class="error">Error: Invalid time." contains an extrinsic dash or other characters that are invalid for a date interpretation.Shirley Temple
Was Chief of Protocol when Nixon resigned

Employment.png United States Ambassador to El Salvador

In office
October 21, 1971 - September 2, 1973

Henry Edward Catto Jr. (December 6, 1930 – December 18, 2011) was an American businessman, diplomat and Chairman of the Atlantic Council.[1]

Texas Years

A native of San Antonio, Texas and son of a prominent insurance man, he was educated at T.M.I.—The Episcopal School of Texas, graduating in 1948, and at Williams College, graduating in 1952. In the early 1960s, Catto twice ran for the Texas Legislature as a Republican, losing both times. In his 1960 attempt, he lost to notorious San Antonio gambler V. E. "Red" Berry.[2] From 1955 to 2000, he was a partner in the insurance brokerage firm Catto & Catto in San Antonio.

Catto knew Jim Baker, "the Bakers had a wedding party for my wife and me in 1958 when we got married, in Houston."[3]

Catto also knew George Herbert Walker from Texas in the early 1960s. After first meeting for party affairs, first time during a lunch together "at the Petroleum Club high above downtown Houston", they hit it off very nicely, and became friends." He supported Bush in his Texas Congress election. He got the job as Chief of Protocol of the United States on a recommendation from Bush.[3]


Catto held several positions within the United States government. He was the Deputy Representative to the Organization of American States from 1969 to 1971, Ambassador to El Salvador from 1971 to 1973, the Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1974 to 1976, the Ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva from 1976 to 1977,[4]

During the Carter years, he was out of government and "rustled up some consulting clients, an Australian publisher called Rupert Murdoch, a Swiss banker. I’ve forgotten who all, but I had enough to keep the wolf from the door. I enjoyed being a Washington rep for various and sundry foreign countries."[3]

During Regan, he was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs from 1981 to 1983, under Caspar Weinberger. "I had a friend named Bill Walker who had been in the Ford administration and was part of the Cheney mafia. And when I was sent off to Geneva, the Walkers lived there, where he was the deputy trade representative. We became very, very good friends. At some point— Frank Carlucci, I think it was — said to Bill Walker, "Do you know anybody who’d make a good Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs?" Walker says, "Catto knows everybody in the press in Washington. He’d be terrific." I went and interviewed with Cap and Frank, and they liked me and hired me."[3]

With a strange 6 year interlude in the private sector, from 1983 to 1989, he was vice chairman and president of a broadcast group at H&C Communications, operator of network television stations (Houston, Des Moines, Tucson, Nashville, Orlando-Daytona Beach, San Antonio), he walked straight into the plum job of US diplomacy. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed him as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He held the position until 1991, when he became the director of the United States Information Agency.[5]

In 1999, he was elected chairman of the deep state Atlantic Council of the United States, and in 2007, its chairman emeritus.

He was a contributing editor of the American Journalism Review. At the time of his death, he was vice chairman of the Aspen Institute, where he and his wife, Jessica Hobby Catto, had established the Catto Fellowship for a Sustainable Future. He and his wife also supported the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

Catto was a member of the board of the National Public Radio Foundation, having served on the NPR Board from 1995 to 2001. He was also a member of the Smithsonian National Board, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Advisory Council of America Abroad Media. He was Diplomat-in-Residence at the University of Texas at San Antonio, held honorary LLD degrees from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and St. Mary's University in San Antonio, and was a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in London. He authored Ambassadors at Sea: The High and Low Adventures of a Diplomat (University of Texas Press, 1998).

Ambassador Catto was married to the late Jessica Hobby, daughter of William P. Hobby and Oveta Culp Hobby. Jessica Hobby Catto was a noted conservationist and journalist who wrote a blog for the Huffington Post on conservation, the media, and political issues right up until her death in 2009.[6] Together the Cattos had four children. Henry Catto died at his home in San Antonio, Texas, on December 18, 2011.[7]

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