Warren Wilhelm (September 17, 1917 - July 28, 1979) was the father of Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City (2014-present).
Life and Death[edit | edit source]
Wilhelm was born on September 17, 1917 in New York City as the son of Donald George Wilhelm and Nina Warren. Wilhelm graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 1939. He joined the editorial staff at Time, where he met his wife, Maria de Blasio. When World War II broke out that year, he looked to serve, especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In 1942, after learning he was too tall for the U.S. Navy, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater and lost a lower leg in the Battle of Okinawa. After the war, the couple married and started a family in Washington, DC, where Wilhelm found a job as an economist in the Bureau of the Budget.
Like many civil servants of that era, Wilhelm was soon ensnared by the federal employee loyalty program, established in 1947 to counter claims that the Truman administration harbored communists. At a July 1950 hearing, he answered allegations generated by months of FBI investigation. Informants reported that at Yale, he had belonged to the American Student Union, which included communists. Most damaging, Whittaker Chambers, the Time editor who had testified in 1948 that Alger Hiss and other U.S. officials were Soviet spies, charged that his wife demonstrated communist sympathies. With assistance from distinguished law, he rebutted each allegation and kept his job. But when another allegation about his Yale days surfaced in 1953, he left government service. He found work in the private sector, but his integrity had been impugned and his career derailed. As a war veteran, angry and embittered, he descended into alcoholism, especially when his youngest son, Bill de Blasio, was born in May 1961.
In 1968, he left the home for good, and a year later, his wife divorced him. Absent from his children, he suffered from inoperable lung cancer and committed suicide on July 28, 1979.