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Notable Graduates

Secretary of the Navy

Curtis Dwight Wilbur

Curtis Dwight Wilbur

Class of 1888
  • Secretary of the Navy, 1924-1929

Profile

 

The forty-third Secretary of the Navy, Curtis Dwight Wilbur, was born in Boonesboro, Iowa, on May 10, 1867. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1884. Shortly after graduation, Curtis Wilbur resigned his commission, a common practice at the time, and moved to Riverside, California. He was admitted to the California bar in 1890 and served as Los Angeles Deputy Assistant District Attorney. Curtis Wilbur moved to the Superior Court in 1903, and finally, in 1918, to the California Supreme Court where he served as Chief Justice.

On March 19, 1924, Curtis Wilbur was sworn in as Secretary of the Navy. The first appointee of President Calvin Coolidge, Curtis Wilbur came into the position with a reputation as a man of high intellect and a character of "unimpeachable integrity."

By the end of his term, Curtis Wilbur had achieved success in enlarging and modernizing the fleet and established a naval air force which would grow to become a potent component in the war with Japan.

When Herbert Hoover became president in 1929, he appointed Curtis Wilbur to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He served with distinction as the presiding judge until his retirement in 1945. Following retirement, Curtis Wilbur spent time with his wife, Olive Doolittle, and his three children; Edna, Paul and Lyman Dwight. The Honorable Curtis D. Wilbur passed away in 1954.

 
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