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Ed Derwinski
Ed derwinski.jpg
1st United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In office
March 15, 1989 – September 26, 1992
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Jesse Brown
Under Secretaries of State for International Security Affairs
In office
March 24, 1987 – January 21, 1989
Preceded by William Schneider, Jr.
Succeeded by Reginald Bartholomew
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's Illinois's 4th congressional district district
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by William E. McVey
Succeeded by George M. O'Brien
Personal details
Born September 15, 1926
Chicago, Illinois
Died January 15, 2012 (aged 85)
Oak Brook, Illinois
Cause of death Merkel-cell carcinoma
Political party Republican
Alma mater Loyola University Chicago
Military service
Branch/service United States Army
Unit Infantry
Battles/wars World War II

Edward Joseph Derwinski (born September 15, 1926; died January 15, 2012) was an American politician. He was the first Cabinet-level United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, serving under President George H. W. Bush from March 15, 1989, to September 26, 1992. Before that, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1959 to 1983, representing the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago.


Derwinski served in the United States Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II and in the postwar U.S. occupation of Japan. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1951. He was a member of the Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity. In 1957 he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served one term before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1958. He served 12 terms as a Republican representative from the 4th District of Illinois, a suburban region south and west of Chicago, eventually becoming the ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. He was also a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1971-1972 and as chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Interparliamentary Union from 1970-1972 and 1978-1980.

A Democratic redistricting plan after the 1980 Census split up the 4th District, with only about 15% of its area remaining and added to various areas from other districts; Derwinski and Republican congressman George M. O'Brien were placed in the same district, and O'Brien won the 1982 primary on the strength of having more of his previous district included in the new change. After Derwinski's loss, President Ronald Reagan picked him to be Counselor to the State Department. In 1987, Reagan picked him to be Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology, where he served until the end of Reagan's term. Not long after that, he was picked by George H.W. Bush to head the VA.

Personal Life

Derwinski lived in Glen Ellyn, Illinois with his wife, the former Bonita Hickey. He had two adult children from his first marriage to Patricia Derwinski, Maureen and Michael.

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