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Frank Carlucci, Carlyle chairman who led Pentagon, dies at 87

Frank Carlucci, who advocated an arms buildup in the 1980s before becoming defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan and later expanded the influence of Carlyle Group as the investment firm's chairman, has died. He was 87.

He died Sunday at his home in McLean, Va., according to the Washington Post, citing a family friend, Susan Davis. The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease.

A former Navy officer and diplomat, Mr. Carlucci was a key official under four U.S. presidents and part of the Pentagon's network of Republican power brokers, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Caspar Weinberger, both of whom became Defense Department chiefs. Through his association with Mr. Rumsfeld, a roommate at Princeton University, Mr. Carlucci rose through the ranks of President Richard Nixon's administration where he met Mr. Weinberger and had contact with Mr. Reagan, then governor of California.

Mr. Carlucci was ambassador to Portugal in the mid-1970s and then deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Democratic President Jimmy Carter. In the early 1980s, he was a driving force behind increased military spending — more than $1 trillion over five years — that later lured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to the negotiating table with Mr. Reagan.

He said the escalation of weaponry, which included ground-launched Cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe as well as investment in the Strategic Defense Initiative, a space-based anti-missile defense system known as Star Wars that never came to fruition, ended the Cold War.

"The Soviets sure believed we could do it," Mr. Carlucci said in an interview with the University of Virginia's Miller Center in 2001. "Those weapons had a decided psychological impact. Had we not had the military buildup, I don't think the Cold War would have ended as quickly as it did."

When George H.W. Bush came to power in 1989, Mr. Carlucci moved to Carlyle Group, a Washington-based firm that employed former government officers, including Secretary of State James Baker, Mr. Rumsfeld and later Mr. Bush himself.

As chairman of Carlyle from 1993 until 2003, Mr. Carlucci expanded into industries such as global communications. It pursued leveraged buyouts through new offices in Europe; diversified into global real estate; and opened its first Asian office, in Hong Kong, according to the company's website.

Carlyle, which had about $13 billion in assets at the end of Mr. Carlucci's tenure, says on its website that former government officials worked there from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, but "most have since retired from the firm." In 2012, the firm had an initial public offering and is now called Carlyle Group LP.

"The Carlyle Group mourns the passing of Frank Carlucci, a great patriot, leader and friend. Just as he served America with passion and distinction for decades, Frank's private-sector career was remarkable as well. As vice chairman and then chairman of Carlyle from 1989-2003, Frank was instrumental in transforming our boutique investment firm into a respected global institution," the firm said in a statement. "His wisdom, knowledge and stature helped us make smarter investments decisions and form fruitful relationships around the world. The blessings of his friendship and partnership will forever be a part of our hearts and firm. Our thoughts and prayers are with Marcia and all of Frank's family and friends during these sad and difficult days."

Frank Charles Carlucci III was born Oct. 18, 1930, in Scranton, Pa., to Frank Mr. Carlucci Jr., an insurance broker, and the former Roxanne Bacon.

In 1952, he graduated from Princeton, where Mr. Baker was a classmate and Mr. Rumsfeld joined him on the wrestling team. After two years in the U.S. Navy, he received a master's in business administration at Harvard Business School.

He joined the State Department as a foreign-service officer in 1956 and was posted to South Africa, Congo, Zanzibar and Brazil.

In 1969, Mr. Carlucci moved to Nixon's Office of Economic Opportunity, at the urging of Mr. Rumsfeld, who was then the president's chief of staff. Mr. Carlucci rose to director of OEO in 1970 before becoming Mr. Weinberger's deputy at the Office of Management and Budget. He followed Mr. Weinberger to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as undersecretary in 1972.

In 1975, Mr. Carlucci became ambassador to Portugal where he stayed for three years and assisted with its transition to democracy.

Mr. Carlucci moved to the CIA as deputy director under Stansfield Turner in the Carter administration. When Mr. Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, he appointed Mr. Carlucci deputy defense secretary under Mr. Weinberger. Mr. Carlucci left the Pentagon in 1983 to become president of Sears World Trade Inc., a Sears, Roebuck & Co. subsidiary, because he was running out of money to support his family, he said.

In 1986, he was appointed national security adviser under Mr. Reagan, and tapped Colin Powell, a military officer serving in Germany, to be his deputy.

Mr. Carlucci returned to the Defense Department to succeed Mr. Weinberger as secretary in November 1987, serving 14 months.

After his first marriage, to Jean Anthony, ended in divorce, he married Marcia Myers. He had three children: Frank, Karen and Kristin.