Bill Brock dies at 90: Chattanooga native was longtime national leader

Bill Brock


One of Chattanooga's most prominent and powerful residents has died. William E. "Bill" Brock III served at the government's highest levels for more than three decades. Brock, who was 90, grew up in his family's well-known business, the Brock Candy Company.  Brock was among the first Republican elected officials to achieve political success in southeast Tennessee in 1962 after a four-decade period of Democratic rule.  Brock's election paved the way for latter-day GOP officials including Howard Baker, Lamar Alexander, Zach Wamp, Bob Corker, and others. 

His post-Congressional career was equally distinguished, serving as Secretary of Labor and U.S. Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan. He remained influential as a mentor and advisor in his later years. Here is the information provided by a family spokesperson:

Former Tennessee Senator Bill Brock, who served in both chambers Congress and as a Cabinet member, passed away today at the age of 90 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Brock spent eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1962 to 1970, becoming the first Republican to hold the Third Congressional District seat in 40 years. In 1970, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He also served as U.S. Trade Representative and Labor Department Secretary during the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

He was elected Chair of the Republican National Committee, rebuilding the GOP through grass roots efforts that welcomed people of different races, backgrounds, and perspectives. 

Brock co-chaired the National Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce and chaired the Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills which set a new course for elementary and secondary education. He received the National Academy of Human Resources highest tribute and recognition for outstanding achievement in advancing human development.

He was as a Senior Counselor and Member of the Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he chaired the International Policy Roundtable.

Born and raised in Chattanooga, TN, Bill Brock graduated from McCallie School in 1949, attended Washington & Lee University, earning a BS in Commerce in 1953. When Brock returned from serving 2 years in the Navy, he went to work in his family’s candy company.  Like his parents and grandparents, Mr. Brock was called to serve in his community and became active in the Chattanooga Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Brock is survived by his wife, Sandra Schubert Brock; two brothers, Paul “Pat” Brock and Frank Brock; six children and step-children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.