[Gronouski Picture]

Gronouski, John

(1920-1996) US Postmaster General, Ambassador

U.S. Postmaster General and American Ambassador to Poland, first Polish-American to become a cabinet member in Washington, DC. Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, headed US information broadcast services to Iron Curtain countries.

From: "My Name is Million" by Wieslaw S. Kuniczak, Doubleday and Co.; Garden City, NY, 1978

Note: additional facts about Ambassador John A. Gronouski
State of Residency: Wisconsin
Non-career appointee
Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Sep 11, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post May 26, 1968
Died on January 7, 1996

Warsaw Throng Hails Arrival of Gronouski

Warsaw -- More than 1,000 Polish people sang and cheered John A. Gronouski who arrived here on Monday, Nov. 29, to take over his new post as U.S. Ambassador.

Throngs lined the platforms of Warsaw's railroad station and shouted out "Long live the ambassador" and sang out "May he live 100 years" (Sto lat . . . sto lat . . .) when the former Postmaster General stepped from his train.

A new diplomatic technique has been added by Gronouski on his first day as a U.S. envoy. He mingled with the crowd, shaking hands, talking with the people, and reminding them that he is the grandson of Franciszek Gronowski, who left western Poland in about 1875 and that the ties still bind.

The Ambassador read a statement in Polish. He speaks little Polish, but has been studying the language since his appointment as Postmaster General. The appointment of Gronouski as Ambassador to Poland was a skillful move on the part of President Johnson, and the warm reception he already has received in Warsaw on the first day of arrival, indicates that there will definitely be closer ties between the Polish and the U.S. governments.

Mr. Gronouski intends to visit major cities, and even hamlets, to meet with the people, converse with them, and put on an exhibition of American political gladhanding.

The U.S. State Department will be watching closely Gronouski's new style as ambassador, and if it proves itself, may consider changing its policy of appointments of ambassadors to other Eastern European countries.

From: Polish American Journal, Dec. 11, 1965

[Gronouski Article]

Gronouski - Dean of the LBJ School

Dallas, Texas

John A. Gronouski, former Postmaster General during Kennedy and Johnson presidency and former US Ambassador in Warsaw was appointed the first Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

The School starts enrolling the first students in September 1970 and is the first of its kind in the country.

Gronouski expects that about 200 of the brightest students from all over the country will enter the University attending lectures on public affairs, internal affairs and diplomacy.

Many outstanding politicians will teach in the School. The School will be located in the Johnson Library building complex on 19 acres of the eastern part of Texas University campus.

Translation by: Andrzej Szczepanski, Oct. 27, 2006

From: "Gwiazda" (Polish Star), September 25, 1969 (see orignal, left side)

Gronouski Heads Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America

New York City -- Dean John Gronouski, former Postmaster General and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland, has been elected President of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. Elected as vice presidents were: Prof. Zbigniew Brzeziski, the Herbert Lerman Professor of Government and Director of the Research Institute on Communist Affairs, Columbia University, and Prof. Feliks Gross, Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY.

The main thrust of the Institute's activities are currently in the field of ethnic studies of Polonia, its history, its present situation, its contribution to US achievements. For the purposes of conducting these studies, the Institute received a grant this year from the Rockefeller Foundation. This is also a first as far as a Polish scholarly institution in the US in concerned. Offices of the Polish Institute are located at: 59 E. 66th St., New York 10021.

From: Polish American Journal, 1976

John Gronouski, 76, Kennedy-Era Postal Chief

Obituary by Robert McG. Thomas Jr.

John A. Gronouski, a rumpled economics professor who parlayed an academic tax study and his ethnic background into a public service career that included stints as Postmaster General and Ambassador to Poland, died on Sunday in a hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He was 76 and had lived in Green Bay since retiring in 1989 as a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

His family said the cause was complications from a stroke.

When he was tapped by President John F. Kennedy in the summer of 1963 to be Postmaster General, Mr. Gronouski was a highly regarded Wisconsin tax commissioner who had provided a crucial endorsement to Kennedy in the 1960 campaign.

Mr. Gronouski had a reputation as a militant Democrat from his role in an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Wisconsin's red-baiting Republican Senator, Joseph R. McCarthy, and as a tough-minded administrator who had revamped the Wisconsin tax system. But Mr. Gronouski had what many saw as an even more important political credential: his Polish background.

Mr. Gronouski was not only the first person of Polish extraction to serve in the Cabinet, he was also believed to be the first Cabinet officer to have actually earned a Ph.D.

Whatever reservations he may have had about being seen as an ethnic token in Presidential politics, Mr. Gronouski, whose mother was Irish, did not disappoint his patrons.

In his first 14 months in office, Mr. Gronouski, whose candor and pipe-smoking informality endeared him to the Washington press corps, held 63 news conferences, traveled 127,000 air miles, visited 132 cities and gave 445 speeches, an average of more than one a day, many of them to Polish-American groups.

But for all his political forays, Mr. Gronouski found time to become a highly effective postal administrator. Among other things he moved aggressively against racial discrimination in postal employment and spearheaded the transition to the five-digit ZIP code (after conceding that he did not know his own).

He also ordered bulk mailers to presort their own mail and moved to close many marginal post offices. It was a reflection of his unsentimental approach to postal economy that he endorsed a plan to save $4,417 a year by eliminating the rural carrier position in his own birthplace, the Wisconsin hamlet of Dunbar.

After being named Ambassador to Poland in 1965, Mr. Gronouski continued his barnstorming ways. Operating as what amounted to President Johnson's personal envoy to Eastern Europe, he used Poland as a base for what were billed as "bridge-building" trips to other Soviet bloc countries seeking to promote trade and other ties with the United States.

After President Johnson left office in 1969, Mr. Gronouski, who had helped run Hubert H. Humphrey's abortive bid for the Presidency in 1968, helped design the curriculum at the Johnson school in Austin and served as its first dean.

In 1977, he was called back to Federal service by President Jimmy Carter to become chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting, which ran Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

Mr. Gronouski, who grew up in Oshkosh, graduated from the University of Wisconsin before serving as an Air Force navigator on bombing missions over Germany in World War II. When his plane was shot down, he was forced to bail out and survived even though he had worn his parachute upside down.

After the war, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, held a series of teaching positions, including one at Wayne State University in Detroit and wrote a number of articles on tax policy, among them a study of the Wisconsin tax system that led to a job with the state tax department.

In 1960, less than a year after he passed a civil service exam to become research director, he was named tax commissioner.

He is survived by his wife. Mary; two daughters, Julie of Seattle and Stacey of Green Bay; a sister, Rita Wilson of Sun City, Ariz., and four grandchildren.

From:Polish American World, Jan. 19, 1996

J. A. Gronouski Had Many Careers


Greenbay, Wisconsin - John Austin Gronouski, President John Kennedy's postmaster general and President Lyndon Johnson's ambassador to Poland, died Jan. 7. He was a man of many careers.

Gronouski, who served as Wisconsin's tax commissioner in the early 1960s, met with Chinese Communists in behind-the-scenes negotiating in Poland during the Vietnam War and worked to implement Federal Judge John Reynold's Milwaukee school desegregation ruling in the mid-1970s.

A teacher and economist, Gronouski also served as a dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

During his career, Gronouski was defined at various times as a "rare combination of an intellect and a practical politician," as "a big, shaggy bear of a man," and as friendly and articulate.

"He was really one of the great sons of the state of Wisconsin," Judge Reynolds said. "A man couldn't have had a more interesting life."

Gronouski was born Oct. 16, 1919, in Dunbar and grew up in Oshkosh. Majoring in public finance, he received three degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: a bachelor's in 1942, master's in 1947, and a doctorate in 1955.

A first lieutenant with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, he flew 24 combat missions over Europe.

Gronouski had been active in Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign in the state. In 1963, Gronouski received the call to be postmaster general, the last cabinet appointment Kennedy was to make.

Gronouski remained in the mail post after Kennedy's assassination. In 1965, Johnson appointed him ambassador to Poland. While there, he became acquainted with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, and also was involved in secret negotiations with the Chinese on the relationship between the two major powers and other issues, including Vietnam.

At Judge Reynold's request, Gronouski returned to Wisconsin in 1976 to serve as a special master for Milwaukee's school desegregation, setting up the busing program and magnet schools.

From: Straz, Feb. 22, 1996; Post Eagle, Mar. 27, 1996

John Austin Gronouski

Dies at age 76

John Austin Gronouski, the first Polish American to serve in a Presidential Cabinet, died at 76 on January 7, 1996 in his hometown of Greenpoint, Wisconsin.

He served as President John Kennedy's Postmaster General and under President Lyndon Johnson he served as Ambassador to Poland. He later was dean of the LBJ Institute at the University of Texas. In Warsaw, Poland, he was a key player in US-China meetings and negotiations. In 1977, Gronouski was named chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting, which ran Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

From: Polish American Journal, April 1996.

John Austin Gronouski

Public servant, diplomat, economist

Born Oct. 26, 1919, Dunbar (WI), U.S.; son of John and Mary (Riley); married Mary (Metz); children: Stacy, Julie.

Education: Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1955; Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), (honorary), Alliance College, Cambridge Springs (PA), 1964; Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) (honorary), Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ), 1967, St. Edward's University, Austin (TX), 1970, Babson College, Babson Park (MA), 1973, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, 1990.

Career, i.a.: research associate, Federation of Tax Administrators, 1952-56; research director, Wisconsin Income Tax Administration Study, University of Wisconsin, 1956-57; taxation administrator and commissioner (MI, WI), 1957-63; postmaster general, cabinets of President J. F. Kennedy and President L. B. Johnson; ambassador to Poland and U.S. representative in talks with communist China, 1965-68; dean, 1969-74, prof., 1969-89, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin; member Eisenhower Commission (on international radio broadcasting), 1972-73; special master, U.S. district court: desegregation of Milwaukee public schools (WI), 1976-77; chairman, Board for International Broadcasting, 1977-81.

Member of: board trustees member, National Urban League, 1968-73; board member, 1976-86, chairman, 1983-85, Austin Area Urban League; board member, Austin Area Private Industry Council, 1985-89; National Academy of Public Administration; American Economical Association; National Tax Association; Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (P.I.A.S.A.) (past president).

Honors: W. M. Young Jr. Award, Austin Area Urban League, 1986; J.W. McGrew Public Policy Research Award, Austin Society for Public Administration, 1988.

Served with: United States Army Air Force (USAAF), World War II, European Theater, 1st Iieutenant navigator, 1942-45.

Affiliation: Democrat. Catholic.

Language: English.

Hobbies: golf, swimming, reading.

Home: 1108 S. Monroe Ave., Green Bay, WI 54301.

From: "Who's Who in Polish America" 1st Edition 1996-1997, Boleslaw Wierzbianski editor; Bicentennial Publishing Corporation,
New York, NY, 1996