About J. Fife Symington Jr.
John Fife Symington, Jr. (August 27, 1910 – 9 December 2007) was the United States diplomat to Trinidad and Tobago and an airline pioneer.
Symington was born in Baltimore on August 27, 1910. His uncle, who was a fighter pilot in World War I and founder of Pan American World Airways, got him interested in flying. After graduating from Kent School, Kent, Connecticut in 1929, he earned a bachelor's degree at Princeton University in 1933 where he became a member of the Ivy Club; that year, he also rode as a gentleman jockey in the My Lady's Manor and Grand National point-to-point races.
During the Depression, he borrowed and traveled on Pan American to Miami, San Juan, Trinidad and South America. After his travels, he got a pilot license and emerged unhurt from three plane crashes. He got a job with the airline in 1934 and was assigned to Rio de Janeiro. When he returned from Brazil, he was given the job of traffic manager when Pan Am opened a terminal on Colgate Creek near Dundalk in 1937.
In 1939, he was assigned to London to open up an international office. There he managed trans-Atlantic traffic for the United States Navy, and held the rank of lieutenant. He left Pan Am in 1948.
Symington unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1958, 1960 and 1962. He campaigned for Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964. He hosted a Goldwater event at his Lutherville home that year. Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon attended the event.
When Nixon made President he named Symington ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago in 1969. He held the post until 1971. During his time as ambassador he had to deal with a political crisis.
Personal life and death
In 1939 he married Martha Howard Frick, granddaughter of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick; they had three daughters, Martha Frick (Symington) Sanger, Arabella (Symington) Dane, and Helen Clay (Symington) Chace, and one son, Fife Symington, the former Governor of Arizona from 1991 until 1997. They later divorced. He also had a twenty year relationship with Natalie Brengle until his death. The two never married.
Symington died on December 9, 2007, at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Baltimore, Maryland, due to complications of old age. He was survived by all his children.