May 9, 1928 – March 23, 2012
Frederick S. Wyle served in the State Department during the Kennedy Administration and later working on policy matters regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under the Johnson Administration. Fred worked with many of the ‘Wise Men’ of Kennedy’s and Johnson’s administration during the hottest days of the cold war. An intimate of Cyrus Vance, Clark Clifford and others at both State and Defense, Fred worked on policy planning focusing on European affairs and helped to manage and contain the threat of nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.
A fluent speaker of Russian, French, English and German, Fred was born in Germany and fled the Nazis with his family via Tel Aviv in the late 1930s. Settling in Brooklyn, NY, Fred went to New Utrecht High School and having rapidly mastered English and the street smarts needed to navigate Brooklyn, he went on to enlist in the U.S. Army and served in occupied Japan, where he fell in love with the traditional aspects of rural life in western Japan. Returning to the U.S. Fred entered Harvard University on the GI Bill obtaining a law degree in the mid-1950s. A highly successful attorney from the very onset of his career, Fred represented famous clients such as Arthur Miller before the House Un-American Activities Committee and briefly Miller’s even more famous wife, Marilyn Monroe whom he remembered ushering down the service elevator in New York to avoid the growing crowd in the lobby of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison where he served as counsel.
Always a believer in a legal system that demanded justice for the individual, Fred represented Dr. Earl Reynolds who sailed his boat the Phoenix into the test zone to protest the nuclear tests taking place at Bikini Atoll. In all of these well-known cases Fred achieved notable victories – perhaps most significantly in Arthur Miller’s case.
After being recruited to join the Kennedy Administration in the early 1960s and during his years at the Pentagon – a period of his career he often recalled most fondly – Fred went on to represent the island state of Micronesia in the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea and in the negotiation between the Federated States of Micronesia and the US government for the future status of Micronesia. Now sitting on the opposite side of the fence from the government, he fought to gain the maximum benefit for his clients, recalling a period in the legal profession where it was not uncommon for foes in the courtroom to be friends outside of it. After working on the Law of the Sea, Fred continued to work as a trustee of bankruptcy throughout California with a specialty in his later years on issues related to Indian gaming and as a trustee of card clubs in California, notably the Bicycle Club in Los Angeles and Garden City Casino in San Jose.
Outside of the courtroom, he was an intellectual in the best sense of the word, a master of languages, an excellent impressionist, bad-weather sailor and most proudly, honorary cowboy – one of perhaps a small handful of Jewish cowboys on the planet. Above all he was a lover of friends, stories and celebrations. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues in Berkeley, San Francisco, Nevada, throughout the U.S. and throughout the world. He is survived by his beloved wife Katinka and their children Christopher and Katie and their spouses Trang and Cormac, and his daughter Susan as well as his three grandchildren, Cassidy, Haisley and Frederick Pheonix.
Fred’s favorite charities: