Frank Pace (1912–1988)

Frank Pace Jr. was an Arkansas native who served as Secretary of the Army under President Harry S. Truman from 1950 to 1953 and as the first president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 1968 to 1972 under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. Pace served in many capacities—such as attorney, civil servant, corporate executive, and nonprofit director—in his long career.

Frank Pace Jr. was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 5, 1912, to Frank Pace and Flora Augusta Layton Pace. The family soon moved to Pennsylvania. He received a private school education in Pennsylvania before attending Princeton University. He received his law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1936.

Pace returned to Arkansas, serving as an assistant district attorney for the Twelfth Judicial District (Sebastian County). In 1938, he became general counsel with the Arkansas Department of Revenue. With the beginning of World War II, he enlisted in the military and served with the U.S. Army’s Air Transport Command, leaving the service as a major in 1945.

Pace married Margaret Morris Janney; they had three daughters.

After brief stints as a lawyer with the Department of Justice and then with the U.S. Postal Service, he became assistant director of the Bureau of the Budget in 1948. Under Pace’s direction, multi-billion-dollar post–World War II deficits turned into the first surpluses the federal government had seen since 1930. Pace was promoted to director of the bureau in 1949.

On April 12, 1950, President Truman appointed him as the third Secretary of the Army, succeeding Gordon Gray. The position was created in 1947 as part of a reorganization of the nation’s armed forces. In this position, Pace was the chief executive of the army, reporting to the Secretary of Defense and the president.

Just two months into his new position, on June 25, 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea without warning. Pace had to help organize army forces quickly and respond to the attack, which many Americans believed could be a prelude to World War III. America and its allies were ultimately able to preserve South Korean independence.

His tenure as army secretary ended with the close of the Truman administration on January 20, 1953. Afterward, Pace became an executive with General Dynamics, a military contractor. He served as vice president, president, and chief executive officer. He served with General Dynamics until 1962.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Pace to a secret administrative panel. With the Cold War threatening the outbreak of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Eisenhower administration was making preparations for the worst. In case of such an apocalyptic disaster and the total breakdown of civil government, Eisenhower appointed a number of federal officials and industry leaders to take charge of aspects of the economy, communications, and infrastructure to keep society functioning. Pace was appointed to lead the Emergency Transport Agency; however, Pace resigned from the post a few months after his appointment. The existence of this group, called the Eisenhower Ten, was classified as top secret and not revealed for years.

In June 1964, Pace co-founded the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), a nonprofit organization designed to strengthen the free enterprise system by training executives in Third World nations and consulting with them on business issues. The IESC is active in 130 countries.

In 1968, after President Johnson signed legislation creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, he appointed Pace to be the organization’s first president. As president, Pace was responsible for organizing television and radio stations to air educational and cultural programs to benefit the public.

He began talking with private groups to establish public broadcasting stations across the country and organized existing educational stations into the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). With the establishment of PBS in 1969, public broadcasting stations soon began producing programming. In 1970, Pace took the project to radio, organizing National Public Radio (NPR), which continues to serve public broadcasting stations across the nation. Pace stepped down from his position in 1972.

At the age of sixty-five, in 1977, Pace founded another nonprofit organization, the National Executive Service Corps. Similar to the IESC, this new organization was designed to train nonprofit executives and to offer consulting services. Pace continued to work with charities, civic organizations, and presidential commissions for years afterward.

Pace died suddenly on January 8, 1988, at the age of seventy-five at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. After his death, the army established the Pace Award, designed to honor both a civilian employee and an active-duty military member for outstanding technical, scientific, or executive achievements in a given year.

For additional information:
“Frank Pace Jr., LR Native Dies; Served Eight Presidents.” Arkansas Gazette, January 10, 1988, p. 3A.

Obituary of Frank Pace, Jr. New York Times, January 10, 1988. Online at (accessed September 3, 2020).

“The Pace Award.” Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. (accessed September 3, 2020).

Kenneth Bridges
South Arkansas Community College


No comments on this entry yet.