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Adapted from "W. Graham Claytor, Jr., Secretary of the Navy" [biography, dated 7 March 1977] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

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  • World War II 1939-1945
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William Graham Claytor, Jr.

14 March 1912 - 14 May 1994

Secretary of the Navy William Graham Claytor, Jr.

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W. Graham Claytor, Jr., was nominated by President Carter to be Secretary of the Navy on 7 February 1977, confirmed by the Senate on 11 February, and sworn into office on 14 February 1977 and served until 24 August 1979.

Mr. Claytor was born in Roanoke, Virginia, on 14 March 1912, and is the son of Graham and Gertrude Harris (Boatwright) Claytor. He married the former Frances Hammond in 1948. Mrs. Claytor was commissioned Ensign USNR in 1942 and served throughout World War II in Eastern Sea Frontier headquarters. She was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander prior to release from active duty in 1946.

Mr. Claytor received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Virginia and was a graduate of the Harvard Law School, where he was President of the Harvard Law Review from 1935 to 1936.

After serving successively as Law Clerk to the late US Court of Appeals Judge Learned Hand and to the late US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Mr. Claytor was admitted to the New York and District of Columbia bars and from 1938 to 1967 was an associate and partner of the firm of Covington and Burling in Washington, DC, with leave of absence for Naval service in World War II.

He served on active duty in the US Navy during World War II. Entering service as an Ensign in 1941, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander prior to his release from active duty in 1946. During this period he served as Commanding Officer of a submarine chaser, USS SC-516 in 1942-43, and as Commanding Officer of USS Lee Fox (DE-65) from 1943 to 1944, and of USS Cecil J. Doyle (DE-368) from 1944 to 1945.

He joined the Southern Railway System on 1 September 1963, as Vice President-Law. He was elected President, Southern Railway Company, on 1 October 1967, and Chairman of the Board effective 1 March 1976. Mr. Claytor also served as President and a Director of Southern Railway System companies and as Chairman of the Board of the Central of Georgia Railroad Company and other affiliated lines of the Southern Railway System.

He was a member of the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, the American Judicature Society, the Advisory Board of the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Studies, Business Advisory Committee to the Transportation Center of Northwestern University, Commission on Sociotechnical Systems of the National Research Council, Harvard Law School Association, and the Protestant Episcopal Foundation of the District of Columbia.

He was also a member of the American Society of Corporate Executives, the Federal City Council of Washington, DC, the National Railway Historical Society, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Conference Board.


Published: Wed Apr 10 09:43:02 EDT 2019