Edward Grant Stockdale was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1915. Stockdale obtained a business administration degree from the University of Miami and then worked as a salesman for a venetian blind company. Later he became a sales manager with the company.
Stockdale became involved in the real estate business and was eventually elected as President of the Miami Junior Chamber of Commerce.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Grant Stockdale enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He served in the Pacific War Zone and took part in the fighting in the Marshall Islands and Okinawa. He was discharged as a First Lieutenant and remained with the rank of Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
A member of the Democratic Party, Stockdale helped his friend, George Smathers, get elected to Congress in 1946. Later that year he became Smathers' administrative assistant. In 1949 Smathers introduced Stockdale to John F. Kennedy, then a young Congressman from Massachusetts. Stockdale became increasingly interested in politics and was a member of the Florida State House of Representatives (1948-49). He was also a member of the Dade County Commission (1952 to 1956).
In 1959 Grant Stockdale was named director of the Florida State committee to elect John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy won the nomination, Stockdale actively campaigned for him in West Virginia, Oregon, and New York. He was also a member of the Democratic Party's National Finance Committee.
Grant Stockdale also formed a business partnership with George Smathers and Eugene A. Hancock. Their company, Automatic Vending Services Incorporated, was involved in providing vending machines to government institutions.
In March, 1961, President Kennedy appointed Stockdale as Ambassador to Ireland. This decision was criticised by some political commentators. Time Magazine pointed out: "On the campaign trail last fall, Jack Kennedy pledged that U.S. embassies would no longer be political plums for heavy campaign contributors, would be staffed solely "on the basis of ability." But last week, as reports of the Administration's favorites for diplomatic posts filtered through Washington, many of Kennedy's staunchest admirers wondered aloud where reward stopped and ability began.... Among the front runners for top ambassadorial assignments... Grant Stockdale, 45, a Miami real estate dealer and former administrative assistant to Jack Kennedy's old Senate pal, Florida Democrat George Smathers, will be Ambassador to Ireland."
Several newspapers began asking questions about Grant Stockdale's relationship with prosperous businessman, Sidney Kessler. It emerged that Kessler gave Stockdale a $5,000 interest-free loan at a time when he had applied for permission to construct a $8 million apartment building in Miami. When this came to the attention of President John F. Kennedy he told Stockdale to pay the money back. According to the Chicago Daily News Stockdale claimed in an interview that "the President was afraid the loan could make look like I was finagling around with the FHA."
In April 1961 Stockdale was served with papers in a $131,000 damages suit by Pan-Am Tobacco Corporation. The New York Times reported: "The suit alleged that he had used undue influence to gain contracts for Automatic Vending Services, Inc., a Miami company in which he owned stock." Pan-Am claimed it its suit that Stockdale had been instrumental in gaining for his company the vending service contract at Aerodex Incorporated, an aircraft engine maintenance company in Miami.
There were also concerns about contracts totaling $500,000 a year at Patrick Air Force Base and the Air Force missile test centre at Cape Kennedy. Stockdale argued that Pan-Am was attempting "to get some publicity because I am a United States Ambassador". The Pan-Am suit was eventually dismissed as "frivolous" in Dade County Circuit Court, and the Florida Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the lower court.
In 1962 John Williams began to investigate the activities of Bobby Baker, a close associate of the Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. His fellow senator, Carl Curtis, later commented: "Williams was a man beyond reproach, sincere and intelligent and dedicated. During his service in the Senate he was rightly referred to as the conscience of the Senate. He was an expert investigator, tenacious and courageous. Senator Williams became the prime mover in bringing about the investigation of Baker."
Bobby Baker had established the Serve-U-Corporation with his friend, Fred Black, and mobsters Ed Levenson and Benny Sigelbaum. The company was to provide vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs. The machines were manufactured by a company secretly owned by Sam Giancana and other mobsters based in Chicago. The president of Serve-U-Corporation was Eugene A. Hancock, Stockdale's business partner at Automatic Vending Services.
Questions were asked about Stockdale's business involvement with Bobby Baker. In an interview he insisted he was "absolutely not" a stockholder in Serve-U-Corporation, the vending company which had figured largely in the Baker investigation. He also pointed out that he had disposed of his holdings in Automatic Vending Services, more than a year earlier. However, under pressure from President John F. Kennedy, he resigned as ambassador in July, 1962 and was replaced by Matthew H. McCloskey.
Stockdale returned to Miami where he became consultant to another vending machine company which had contracts at Cape Canaveral. He was also employed as a public relations official by the Automatic Canteen Company of America.
The investigation of Bobby Baker discovered that he had links to Clint Murchison and several Mafia bosses. Evidence also emerged that Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was also involved in political corruption. This included the award of a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the F-111, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas.
On 7th October, 1963, Baker was forced to resign his post as Secretary to the Majority in the Senate. Soon afterwards, Fred Korth, the Navy Secretary, was also forced to resign because of the TFX contract.
According to Seymour Hersh (The Dark Side of Camelot), at the beginning of November, 1963, President John F. Kennedy asked Stockdale to raise $50,000 for his personal use. Stockdale told friends that the money had something to do with the Bobby Baker case.
On 22nd November, 1963, a friend of Baker's, Don B. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his Senate Rules Committee that Lyndon B. Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for this business. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson.
Don B. Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.
On 26th November, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington and talked with Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."
Edward Grant Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but his friend, George Smathers, claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of John F. Kennedy.
However, Joachim Joesten, the author of The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1968) has argued: "The truth of the matter is that Grant Stockdale was also a wheelerdealer and had found himself caught in the Bobby Baker web, If his death was suicide, the reason was that he feared exposure. More likely, Stockdale was murdered because he knew too much and somebody else feared exposure."
John Simkin has suggested the death was linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy: "I suspect Grant Stockdale told Robert and Edward Kennedy what he knew about the assassination on 26th November. Stockdale was obviously shocked when he discovered that the Kennedy brothers showed little interest in the story. In fact, Edward goes as far to undermine his credibility by questioning his mental state. Why should the Kennedy brothers do this? Why, did they not want the case investigated?"
From 1960 to 1963, the ruling hierarchy of Lionel Corporation was General John B. Medaris, Roy Cohn and Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas), a top Mafia man from New York, Las Vegas, Tucson and Montreal, Canada. Lionel Corporation during this period did over ninety percent of their business with the space agency and army ordnance furnishing such items as electronic equipment, rocket parts, chemical warfare agents and flame throwers. Also, during this period, General Medaris, though having retired in 1960, remained on active duty as special advisor to Army Intelligence in the Pentagon. The Lionel Corporation management was in direct contact with Louis Mortimer Bloomfield who, among other things, was a lawyer with offices in Tangiers, Morocco and Paris, France. Bloomfield was also the president of Heineken's Brewers, Ltd., Canada. General Medaris was a director of one of the land speculation companies of Bobby Baker and Senator George Smathers in Florida. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) in his capacity as a Mafia leader, was associated in the Havana and Las Vegas gambling with L.J. McWillie, Clifford Jones and others.
In addition to J. Edgar Hoover's close association with Roy Cohn, he was also a long time friend of General Medaris. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) had been a personal informer for J. Edgar Hoover for over a decade during 1963. Grant Stockdale, ex-United States Ambassador to Ireland and former George Smathers Administrative Assistant and a stock holder and officer in Bobby Baker's vending machine and Florida land transactions, knew and was closely associated with almost all of the top figures in the cabal. Shortly after President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, Grant Stockdale was pushed, shoved or fell from the fourteenth story of a Miami building and was killed immediately in the fall. As an officer in the Bobby Baker enterprises, Grant Stockdale had particular knowledge of a good part of the workings of the cabal and his death was one of a series made necessary to protect the group from public exposure...
Fred Black of Washington, D.C. was a lobbyist for North American Aircraft and business associate with Bobby Baker and Clifford Jones. Black has confirmed the connection between Jones, McWillie, Baker, Ruby and ex-Cuban President, Prio.
After November 22, l963, Black publicly told many people in Washington, D.C. he had informed J. Edgar Hoover that an income tax conviction against him must be reversed or he would blow the lid off Washington with revelations of the assassination conspirators. Lobbyist Black prevailed upon J. Edgar Hoover to admit error before the Supreme Court where his case was reversed in 1966. Hoover did well to rescue Black from the conviction. Fred Black, while socially drinking with acquaintances in Washington has, on numerous occasions, been reported to have told of J. Edgar Hoover's and Bobby Baker's involvement in the assassination through Las Vegas, Miami and Havana gamblers. He named some of these as the Fox Brothers of Miami, McLaney of Las Vegas, New Orleans, Havana and Bahamas, Cliff Jones of Las Vegas, Carlos Prio Socarras of Havana, Bobby Baker and others. He stated there was also a connection in that some of the gamblers were Russian emigres.
Don Reynolds, Washington, D.C. businessman and associate of Bobby Baker and who had a number of questionable business transactions with Walter Jenkins on behalf of Lyndon Johnson, also gave testimony concerning Bobby Baker's involvement with the principals and he has stated on numerous public occasions that this group was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Black was a stockholder with Baker in the Waikiki Savings & Loan Association in Honolulu. The other members were Clifford Jones and his law partner, Louis Weiner. There was the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Tulsa where Jones joined Baker and Black in a stock deal and brought in a Miami pal by the name of Benny Sigelbaum, a courier of funds and documents to the Swiss banks for Permindex and the Syndicate.
Of all the enterprises, none could compare with the controversial Serv-U Corp., a Baker-Black controlled vending- machine firm. Ed Levinson, president of the Fremont Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, was also a partner. Grant Stockdale, President of Serv-U and his money is covered later. Formed late in 1961, Serve-U Corporation provided vending machines for the automatic dispensing of food and drink in companies working on government contracts. In the next two years, Serv-U was awarded the lion-share of the vending business at three major aerospace firms - North American Aviation, Northrop Corporation and Thompson Ramo Wooldridge's Space Technology Laboratories. Baker and Black each bought stock in the company for $1 a share, while the others paid approximately $16 a share.
On the campaign trail last fall, Jack Kennedy pledged that U.S. embassies would no longer be political plums for heavy campaign contributors, would be staffed solely "on the basis of ability." But last week, as reports of the Administration's favorites for diplomatic posts filtered through Washington, many of Kennedy's staunchest admirers wondered aloud where reward stopped and ability began. "Almost everybody has given three cheers for President Kennedy's top domestic appointees," wrote the New York Times's James B. Reston, a Kennedy admirer, "but two cheers is all he is likely to get for his diplomatic appointees." Among the front runners for top ambassadorial assignments...
Grant Stockdale, 45, a Miami real estate dealer and former administrative assistant to Jack Kennedy's old Senate pal, Florida Democrat George Smathers, will be Ambassador to Ireland.
President Kennedy intervened in the personal financial dealings of Grant Stockdale before permitting him to take his post as U. S. ambassador to Ireland, it was learned yesterday.
Alter nominating the Miami politician and real estate dealer for the post in Ireland. Kennedy learned with shocked surprise of an interest-free $5.000 loan Stockdale had received from a nationally known builder.
Stockdale, in a transatlantic telephone interview from Dublin, admitted that the President was "afraid the loan could make it look like I was finagling around with the FHA (Federal Housing Administration)."
He said the President expressed his fears at a White House meeting before Stockdale left for Ireland, and that the President told Stockdale to pay back the money. Stockdale said he returned the $5,000 to Sidney Kessler of New York, whose application tor an FHA commitment of $8 million for an apartment building in Miami was pending at the time the loan was made.
Kessler said yesterday the loan had nothing to do with his FHA application. He said he offered Stockdale the money when Stockdale mentioned that he had been absent from his real estate office in Miami during the presidential campaign and was short of cash. Stockdale was a money-raiser for Kennedy during the campaign. He operated out of New York, working closely with Joseph, the President's father.
Stockdale insisted yesterday that he had nothing to do with the search for a new FHA direcor for south Florida, but he said the President felt that the loan from Kessler might be "misconstrued." He admitted, however, that John A. Grubbs, who was later ousted as FHA director in Miami, spoke to him "two or three times" after the campaign about the prospects of being retained in his $13,730-a-year job.
He also said that some of his own clients in the real estate businessthought highly of Grubbs and suggested that Stockdale do what he could to get backing for Grubbs within the administration. Stockdale said all he did was pass this information, along to Sen. George Smathers. D-Fla. a key figure in patronage appointments for Florida under the Kennedy administration.
Kennedy insisted at a White House meeting that Stockdale pay back the money before leaving for Ireland. Stockdale, who helped raise funds for Kennedy during last year's campaign, complied with the President's order.
Two weeks ago, when this incident was disclosed, Stockdale explained that "the President was afraid the loan could make look like I was finagling around with the FHA."
Both Stockdale and Kessler said that at the time that the loan had nothing to do with any FHA matter. Kessler said he went to see Stockdale at the latter's office in Miami (he thought in February or March) to see if Stockdale could belp him acquire some land. At this meeting, Kessler said Stockdale mentioned that he had been absent from his business during the campaign and was short of cash. Kessler said he then offered Stockdale the loan. Kessler said it was not unusual for him to loan money to a friend at no interest. Stockdale said he did, not know Kessler well at the time.
Three weeks ago the FHA approved Kessler's request for an $8 million commitment for the 21-story town house in an expensive bayfront Miami neighborhood. The application was approved in spite of these factors:
1 — Six weeks ago, it was learned, the FHA issued a "stop order" on accepting any new applications for luxury apartments in greater Miami.
2 — Joseph Graham, FHA zone chief whose jurisdiction includes Florida, was "apprehensive" about the Kessler application and had reported his feelings to Edwin G. Callahan, special assistant to FHA Commissioner Mel Hardy.
3 — An FHA "marketability survey" in Miami indicated that the market for the type of apartments in the Kessler project is poor. The survey was projected for several years, covering the time when construction of Kessler's project would be completed.
Grant Stockdale once had close business connections with vending machine concerns that are under investigation in the Robert G. Baker inquiry...
In an interview published in The Miami Herald last October, shortly after the Senate authorized a study of Mr Baker's dealings, Mr. Stockdale said: "I hope I don't get cut up too bad. I haven't done anything wrong."
In a reference to his former political activities, he said: "I am a business man, but I still consider myself a quasi-public figure. I am very meticulous in my dealings."
Mr. Stockdale's responses were to questions about the similarities between the Washington damage suit against Mr. Baker, which touched off the Baker case, and a 1961 damage suit against Mr. Stockdale and others in Miami.
In April, 1961, just as Mr. Stockdale was leaving Miami to assume his duties as Ambassador to Ireland, he was served with papers in a $131,000 damage suit. The suit alleged that he had used "undue influence" to gain contracts for Automatic Vending Services, Inc., a Miami company in which he owned stock.
Mr. Stockdale accused the complainant, the Pan-Am Tobacco Corporation, of trying to "get some publicity because I am a United States Ambassador". He denied the charges... This suit was dismissed as "frivolous" in Dade County Circuit Court, and the Florida Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the lower court.
Mr. Stockdale, one business associate said, was then "harrassed" by newsmen concerning his connection with Automatic Vending Services and its president, Eugene A. Hancock.
Mr. Hancock formerly was president of the Serv-U-Corporation the vending company which has figured largely in the Baker investigation.
The police said Mr. Stockdale, an intimate friend of President Kennedy, had committed suicide. No notes were found, however. Mr. Stockdale was 48 years old...
In a recent newspaper interview, he (Stockdale) said that he had borne heavy expenses by serving as Ambassador...
When he left Ireland to return to his real estate business in July, 1962, Mr. Stockdale said, he found that the market had declined badly. He also spoke of the great expense of a large family. He had two sons and three daugthers.
Reportedly plagued by financial troubles, Grant Stockdale, former ambassador to Ireland, plunged to his death today from the window of his offices on the 13th floor of Miami's DuPont building.
Police said the 48-year-old Stockdale, an intimate friend of the late President John F. Kennedy, made a suicide leap. No notes were found immediately, however.
In a recent newspaper interview, Stockdale talked about how much money it had cost him to serve as ambassador to President Kennedy's ancestral nation. He said that when he quit the job to return to his real estate business, he found that the market had declined badly. And he spoke of the great expense of a large family. He had two sons and three daughters.
Clad in blue-gray trousers and a white shirt, Stockdale's body struck a fifth floor ledge with an impact heard in many offices in the midtown Miami building. Dr. Schellel H. Wright, who has an office in the DuPont building, examined the body and reported that Stockdale apparently died instantly. Last rites were administered by a priest from the nearby Gesu Catholic church.
Stockdale, big, bluff and handsome, entered politics in 1946 as administrative assistant to then Rep. (now Sen.) George Smathers, D-Fla., Stockdale served in the Florida legislature from 1948 to 1960.
Before Kennedy became President, he visited frequently in Stockdale's Miami home, and in 1961 he named his friend ambassador to Ireland. Stockdale quit the post 15 months later to return to his real estate business, Grant Stockdale and Associates.
Friends said he took the news of Kennedy's assassination very hard.
Before taking the Ireland assignment, Stockdale disposed of his holding in a Miami firm, Automatic Vending Services, Inc., which held contracts at Homestead Air Force base, Miami International airport, Eastern Airlines and Aerodex, Inc. When his firm replaced the Pan-Am Tobacco Co. at Aerodex a $131,000 damage suit was filed charging undue influence in the award of the contract. But the suit was thrown out of court as "frivolous."
Last Sept. 25, Stockdale confirmed reports that he had helped Automatic Canteen Co. of America win a contract at Cape Kennedy. He said he represented the company on a strict commission basis. The Air Force said the contract, with an estimated gross annual income of $500,000 went to the firm bidding the highest commission.
Kennedy once sent his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, to speak at a Miami dinner honoring Stockdale.
As chairman of the University of Miami homecoming celebration, Stockdale had invited the late President's brother. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to speak at the Dec. 14 affair, but he withdrew because of the assassination.
It was a lawsuit over vending machine contracts that precipitated what Washington now calls the "Bobby Baker affairs." But sources in the Senate Rules committee, which is investigating the business transactions of Robert G. Baker, former secretary to the Senate Democratic majorily, said they knew of no connections between Slockdale's vending machine interests and Baker's nor of any connection between the two men.
Baker's interests, outside of his Senate job, came under scrutiny when Capitol Vending Co. Inc., filed a 5300,000 suit charging unfair tactics. The suit alleged that Baker accepted $5,600 from Capitol Vending to get its machines into plants of Melpar, Inc., an aerospace contractor. Baker then acquired an interest in a rival vending concern, Serv-U Inc., and conspired lo get Capitol Vending's contract with Melpar canceled, the suit charged.
Subsequent inquiry developed that Baker, had, or had had, interests in motels in Maryland and North Carolina. The Senate investigators want to learn more about how he acquired his wealth.
Baker, 36. lives in a $I25.000 home in Washington. His pay as secretary to Senate Democrats was about $20,000 a year.
The last conversation of former U. S. Ambassador to Ireland Grant Stockdale before he plunged to death from his office window yesterday was, about how he cried when his close friend John F. Kennedy was killed, a secretary said.
Detectives tentatively recorded the death - as a suicide and said Stockdale had been in almost constant despondency since the assassination of the President Nov. 22.
Mrs. Mary Ruth Hauser, who works in an office across the hall from Stockdale's on the 13th floor of a downtown building, said she talked with Stockdale a few minutes before he fell from the window of his office. "He told me he was in his office when his wife called to tell him the President had been shot. He said he just got down on his knees and prayed," Mrs. Hauser said. "He said he was still on his knees when the phone started ringing with news that Kennedy was dead. But he said he couldn't talk, that all he could do was blubber."
The secretary said it was only minutes later that she heard "this terrible thud. Stockdale fell eight stories to his death, to the roof of a five-story building. Police made, a preliminary ruling of suicide pending result of an autopsy and further investigation.
Many of Stockdale's friends reported he had been despondent over the death of Kennedy, who had visited Stockdale's Coral Gables home before becoming president and whom Stockdale liked to call "the chief."
Acquaintances also indicated that Stockdale, who served as Kennedy's ambassador to Ireland for 14 months in 1961 and 1962, had recently experienced some financial reverses.
In a recent newspaper interview, Stockdale talked about how much money it had cost him to serve as ambassador to President Kennedy's ancestral nation.
He said that when he quit the job to return to his real estate business, he found that the market had declined badly. And he spoke of the great expense of a large family. He had two sons and three daughters.
Mrs. Stockdale said her husband had told her "when the President died, something within me died too." She and friend said Stockdale had been greatly depressed since the assassinaion.
Miarni friends said yesterday that Mr. Stockdale, who was in the real estate and investment business, was despondent over the death of President Kennedy. He is reported to have fallen on his knees and prayed when lie heard the news...
Prior to his resignation it was disclosed that he had borrowed $1,000 interest-free from Sidney Kessler, a New York and Miami builder, who was seeking an $5,000 commitment froin the Federal Housing Administration. The petition was later approved.
President Kennedy reportedly learned of the loan and demanded that Mr. Stockdale return the $5,000.
In a trans-Atlantic telephone call to a Miami reporter, Mr. Stockdale reportedly commented that the President was "afraid the loan could make it look like I was finagling around with the FHA"...
Mr. Stockdale's name also came up briefly as a part time associate of Eugene Hancock, a vending-machine operator, mentioned in the investigation of Bobby Baker.
Hardheaded businessinen - and Stockdale was certainly hardheaded, as his record shows - don't kill themselves because a friend has been murdered, be it the President of the United States. Besides, relations between Kennedy and Stockdale had soured considerably, as we shall see.
All this is part and parcel of the official myth making that goes on day after day in the United States to gloss over the conspicuous taints in The Great Society. It has been going on at a greatly accelerated pace since the assassination of President Kennedy.
The truth of the matter is that Grant Stockdale was also a wheelerdealer and had found himself caught in the Bobby Baker web, If his death was suicide, the reason was that he feared exposure. More likely, Stockdale was murdered because he knew too much and somebody else feared exposure...
To recapitulate the many and striking similarities between the Stockdale and Baker cases:
Grant Stockdale is a big wheel in the Democratic Party and a person of considerable influence in Washington; Bobby Baker is also a big wheel in the Democratic Party geared to one of the biggest and exercises even greater influence in the capital.
Stockdale is also a major stockholder in a vending-machine company. This outfit garners, one after another, extremely lucrative contracts in Government installations and Government-controlled defence plants. And eventually it becomes the target of a damage suit by a competitor, charging the use of "undue influence" in obtaining these contracts.
Two years later, Bobby Baker travels exactly the same road with all its way stations, as has already been described in previous chapters.
Any thought that all this could be purely coincidental is now dispelled by this paragraph in the Times story:
'Mr. Stockdale, one business associate said, was then "harassed" by newsmen concerning his connection with Automatic Vending Services and its president, Eugene A. Hancock...'
There you have it, in a nutshell. Eugene A. Hancock is the president of Automatic Vending Services. One of his biggest assets is a prominent stockholder, Grant Stockdale, who has plenty of pull in Washington.
Coincidentally, of course, profitable government contracts start tumbling out of Washington's cornucopia and into the lap of the Hancock-Stockdale enterprise.
Then, a couple of years later, the scene shifts. Hancock is now president of the Serv-U-Corporation, another automatic vending concern, with the very, very influential Bobby Baker as his principal stockholder (in fact, though not in name). Automatically, again, the cornucopia tilts and starts pouring out juicy government contracts.
And, exactly as before, the new venture leads to a large damage suit in which it is charged that these contracts were obtained through the misuse of influence in Washington.
Hancock is then the conspicuous connecting link between the affairs of Grant Stockdale and those of Bobby Baker. Yet after Stockdale's "suicide", the Senate committee investigating the Baker scandal blandly declared that there was no tie at all. Stockdale, a spokesman for the committee said, was not under investigation and there had been no plans for the committee to question him. And, indeed, the committee did not ask Hancock as far as is known, any questions about Stockdale when it grilled him.
Just one more of those fabulous "coincidences", you see, that abound in every phase and facet of the Johnson regime, and most strikingly in the Oswald story: at the precise moment that the Bobby Baker investigation gets under way, an earlier high-ranking influence peddler formerly associated with the same figurehead president, Hancock, a man hoping and praying that he won't "get cut up too bad" in the process, mysteriously plunges to his death from a tall building. Yet, in the official view, there is no link, no connection.
My name is Adele Elvira Uskali Edisen. Professionally I have a bachelor's degree and a doctorate degree in physiology from the University of Chicago. My field is neurophysiology. I am a neuroscientist.
At the time I will be speaking about 1963 from personal experience, but before I do I could give you a brief run down of my background. I have been on the faculty and have done research at Tulane University School of Medicine, at LSU School of Medicine. In fact, in 1963, I was there as a third year post-doctoral fellow of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness of the National Institutes of Health. I have also been on the faculty of Rockefeller University, that was much later; St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans, Delgato College in New Orleans; the University of Texas at San Antonio; and I am currently teaching part-time at Palo Alto College which is a community college of San Antonio. I have also been associated with the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio in the past.
I am seeking specific records which I mentioned in my letter, and there are some others, but perhaps it would be best to give you an idea of the experience I had. I am willing to give you also a narrative that I wrote in 1975 to give to my attorney in the event of my death in case something happened to me so that there would be a record somewhere because we could not obtain records from the Secret Service or the FBI with whom I had an interview on November 24th, 1963.
In 1962, I tried to get back into my field of research after having three children. My children at that time, in '63, were seven, five and three, and I was offered the opportunity to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship. I had already had two years of postdoctoral fellowship support from that institute, that was at Tulane, and Dr. Sidney Harris of LSU's School of Medicine, Department of Physiology suggested that I apply and he told me in December that he had received a phone call from a Dr. Jose Rivera of the Institute telling him that I had been granted that award.
Since my husband had been ill that was a very important award, and by the time that these meetings occurred in April of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is an umbrella organization of six major biological societies including the physiological, American Physiological Society, I had accomplished a certain amount of research on a volunteer basis, and I had enough results to report.
So I went to these meetings which were held in Atlantic City and it was there that I met the individual I am going to be speaking about, Jose Rivera, who was manning a booth at the convention hall there.
Well, to make this story shorter, I befriended him or he befriended me, I was planning to go to Bethesda in Washington and visit with colleagues and friends at the NIH and also to see the NIH, and so he had, in the course of our conversations and so on, invited me to his home to have dinner with him and his wife and daughter, and also to help me obtain hotel, motel space for my visit in Bethesda after these meetings, and to give me a site-seeing tour, and so on.
It turned out he had taught at Loyola University in New Orleans, and we knew some people in common who were, for example, Dr. Fred Brazda who was Chairman of Biochemistry at LSU Medical School and a few other people.
So, at any rate, I won't go into all the detail in the interest of time, but I will submit my narrative to you. I also wrote a short paper which was published in The Third Decade, which is a research journal of the assassination of President Kennedy, published and edited by Dr. Jerry Rose. This article, this short article was written by me under a pseudonym of K.S. Turner, I was looking trying to find one of the Secret Service agents because I have not yet received any records of my interviews with them.
Mr. Rivera, or Dr. Rivera or Colonel Rivera he also called himself, mentioned to me, and this is April 1963, seven months before the assassination, on Monday night April the 22nd, it turned out that his wife was a nurse and she was on duty at her hospital and so we didn't go to dinner at his home, but rather he took me to Blackie's House of Beef in Washington, and it was there that he said to me, as we were waiting to be seated, he told me about his trips to Dallas and so on, and he mentioned, he said there is a very nice nightclub there, the Carousel Club and the next time you are in Dallas you should go there.
In the few moments later he asked me if I knew Lee Oswald. I had never heard of Lee Oswald. I vaguely wondered if he was related to a boy I had gone to high school with whose name was Fred Oswald, and I went to high school in New York, but that was all. I said, no, I didn't know him.
He said, well, he lived in Russia for a while, and he has a Russian wife and a child and they are in Dallas now and they are planning, he is planning to come to New Orleans - they are planning to come to New Orleans, and you should get to know them because they are a very lovely couple. Those are more or less exact quotes.
I didn't think anything of it. We had dinner and so on and so forth. It was the next night, again his wife apparently couldn't make dinner, and we were seated at, this time, the Marriott, I think it is called the Twin Bridges, across the Potomac River, and there were several other things he asked me about, if I knew of John Abt for example. I later, many years later, learned that was the attorney that Lee Oswald asked to represent him. I didn't know John Abt either. But he did later on say to the effect that Oswald would - I presume he meant Oswald would call upon Abt to defend him.
All of these things were only in retrospect that I put it together. But it was that Tuesday night which was the most devastating. We were site-seeing, and we went all around Washington to the cherry blossoms, the White House, every time we toured around the White House he asked me if I saw Caroline on her pony Macaroni, and all kinds of crazy nonsense, and I was beginning to think I was with an absolute mad man.
But the first indication he made of the death of the President was as we were approaching getting near the White House the first time, he said, I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies. I said, what? And he said, I mean the baby.
What baby was what went into my mind, I didn't know she was pregnant. He said, well she might lose the baby, and then he began to talk about women having caesarian sections and did I know whether they could have normal deliveries, vaginal deliveries if they have had caesarian sections, and it went on and on like that. I just wondered about what he was - maybe he did make a slip of the tongue or something.
But at the Marriott - let me get back to that, and I am sorry I digressed - it was after dinner and he asked to do a favor for him when I got back to New Orleans, and that was the subject of the note which I mentioned in the letter.
He said that he had talked with this gentleman, I guess it is all right to mention the name, I don't know if he had anything to do with the assassination or not, but it was a faculty member at Loyola who apparently had been a friend of his or was a friend, Winston DeMonsabert. He dictated the name - I think I misspelled it in the note - and said call - tell him to call me when you get back there, and ask him when he is leaving New Orleans, because I heard - this is Rivera talking - I heard he was leaving New Orleans.
So I wrote on the note, Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O., my abbreviation for New Orleans. In some more conversation, and he then asked me to write down a number which was 899-4244, and after that he said, write down this name, Lee Harvey Oswald. It didn't ring a bell to me that that was the same name that he had mentioned the night before, and he said, tell him to kill the chief. So underneath that part of the note I wrote in quotes "kill the chief."
Now, let me explain - one more thing, when he saw me writing down the message, he said, no, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans.
The reference to chief to me meant NIH because NIH made this joke or description several times during these two days. He said, do you know why NIH is called the reservation? I said, no. He said, because there are so many chiefs and no Indians.
The organization, the internal organization of NIH is, at least it was then and I presume it is the same now, was that different intermural research groups would have a chief of the section. For example, chief of the spinal cord section, or chief of this or chief of that, and even the training grants and awards section of which Rivera was a part had a chief, Elizabeth Hartman.
So all this time I thought that Oswald was a scientist and a friend of Rivera's. I couldn't understand about the Russian wife because, you know, at that time they were citizens of our two countries were not allowed to leave or to visit each other, and so on.
I became very frightened then, I didn't understand what he was talking about even though he had made references to assassination of the President or killing of the President, but he said when he told me not to write down that part, he said, don't write it down, you will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We are just playing a little joke on him, presumably meaning Oswald.
There were other references to the assassination which I only - he said, for example, after - he kept talking about it in this way, he would say, after it happens - it happens, what happens, you know, I don't know what he is talking about - after it happens, he would say, someone will kill him, meaning apparently the assassin, and I presume it was Oswald, although I never considered until much later that Oswald did it, but anyway Oswald. They will say his best friend killed him. After it happens the President's best friend will jump out of a window because of his grief, and there was such an event about two weeks later, the former Ambassador to Ireland jumped out of a window in Miami, his name was Grant Stockdale. Although, again, at the time I didn't make connection....
"After we finished eating, he (Dr. Rivera) asked me to do a favor for him when I arrived home," recalls Edisen. Rivera wanted Edisen to contact Winston DeMonsabert, a Loyola faculty member who was leaving New Orleans. Edisen wrote a note to herself: "Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O." Then Rivera said to also call Lee Harvey Oswald at 899-4244. "Write down this name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Tell him to kill the chief." Rivera then contradicted himself, saying, "No, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We're just playing a little joke on him."
Edisen said that she still assumed "the joke" would be on Oswald, whom she thought was a scientist and friend of Rivera's. She thought "the chief" was a reference to Elizabeth Hartman, "the chief" of the grants and awards section of the NIH, whom Rivera had earlier joked about as being like the chief of a reservation "with too many chiefs and not enough Indians."
Edisen remembers Rivera then being "agitated and excited. He began talking strangely about 'it' happening" and drew a diagram on a napkin, almost incoherent and very agitated. "It will be on the fifth floor, there'll be some men up there," he said. Edisen quoted Rivera as saying nonsensical things like, "Oswald was not what he seems. We're going to send him to the library to read about great assassinations in history. After it's over, he'll call Abt to defend him. After it happens, the President's best friend will commit suicide. He'll jump out of a window because of his grief... It will happened after the Shriners' Circus comes to New Orleans. After it's over, the men will be out of the country. Remember, the first time it happens won't be real."
Neither Stockdale nor Smathers was an officer or a stockholder or seemingly involved in any way with Serve U - Bakers vending company. Both Smathers and Stockdale of course were politically connected in DC, Stockdale very active in Democratic politics. There is speculation that either of them or Smather's associates could have introduced Baker to Hancock who did become Serve U President.
Stockdale and Hancock had been running a vending machine company in Florida - Automatic Vending - which seems sort of a model for Serve U, focused on govt. contracts. However Stockdale did not join Serve U and took a Kennedy appointment as Ambassador to Ireland. Upon his return to Florida he became consultant to another vending machine company which had contracts at Cape Canavaral. Shortly after his JFK appointment, Automatic Vending had been sued for improper actions in getting a contract at Aerodex but the suit was eventually dismissed.
All in all there is nothing to indicate that either Stockdale or Smathers had any ties to Serve U and Stockdale's friends seem to have felt his suicide immediately following Kennedy's death was personal grief due to his identification and admiration with/for JFK. If there is something more mysterious about it nobody has connected any real dots to date and the speculation seems to be built entirely around the timing of his suicide.
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 2, 1963, Grant Stockdale came to his office on the 13th floor of the Alfred I. Dupont Building, 169 Flagler Street in Miami. His secretary, LaVerne Weingartner, who usually opened the office was not there, but at a dentist's office and would not arrive until 10:30. Stockdale went into a law office across the hall from his and asked Mrs. Mary Ruth Hauser how he could get a key to unlock his office door. She offered to call the building manager to send someone to open it.
Mrs. Hauser stated, "He followed me into my office and stood there while I called down for a key. He stood there very calmly. He didn't seem at all agitated... Somehow the subject of the President's death came up... He told me he was in his office when his wife called to tell him the President had been shot. He said he just got down on his knees and prayed."
Stockdale and Mrs. Hauser were still talking when someone came to unlock his door. She started to followed him across the hall, but just then her office phone started ringing and she returned to answer it. Mrs. Hauser said, "It couldn't have been five minutes later that there was this terrible thud...I just wonder if I had gone right behind him...I don't know, I guess it wouldn't have made any difference. The whole world has just gone mad."
Stockdale's body lay on the roof of the five-story Florida National Bank and Trust Company below the Stockdale office window. Dr. Sheffel H. Wright who had offices in the Dupont Building pronouned him dead at 10:30 a.m.; the police placed the time of death at 10:17 a.m.
All of the people who saw and spoke to Stockdale on his way to work said he had been in good spirits, waving and saying hello. He stopped for a shoe shine, spoke to the elevator operator, and exchanged words with the parking garage attendant. However, it was his friend George Smathers who claimed that it had been an accumulation of grief and worry that had driven Stockdale to suicide.
One newspaper report states that Mrs. Stockdale had urged her husband to seek help for his depression after the assassination, but she called the doctor on Monday to inform him that he was so much better.
According to an article written by Miami Herald Reporter John B. McDermott, titled "Stockdale Into Irrational Mood," Stockdale had tried to reach him on Sunday, December 1. "He wanted to tell me something - to talk things over."
McDermott's article presents the following information:
On Saturday, November 23, 1963, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington, D.C., after a call from Robert Kennedy. He returned that night, thinking he would be unable to get a ticket to the church for the funeral services.
On Monday, November 25, Stockdale learned that a ticket had been reserved for him by the White House, but there was not enough time to get proper plane connections on time.
On Tuesday, November 26, Stockdale flew up to Washington and talked with Robert and Edward Kennedy, and then flew back that night. As a result of this last trip, Teddy (Edward) Kennedy called Mrs. Stockdale, "expressing anxiety over the ex-ambassador's mental state."
Stockdale had mentioned to several people during the ten days before his death that "the world was closing in."
On Sunday, December 1, after attending services at St. Stephens Episcopal Church with his family, Stockdale had paused to speak with Attorney William Frates.
"He started talking," Frates recalled Monday. "It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination. He said he wanted to talk to me - that he had already talked to Billy Gaither (another attorney)."
Grant Stockdale was 48 years old when he died. Funeral Services were held on Wednesday, December 4, 1963, at St. Stephens Episcopal Church with 200 people attending. The blue-and-gold Ambassadors' flag was draped over the coffin. Pall-bearers were Senator George Smathers, Attorney William C. Gaither, former State Senator R.B. Gautier, Jr., former U. of Miami football star and team leader Eddie Dunn, Stockdale's business associate Eugene Hancock, and Realtor Walter Etling. Burial was arranged with the Van Orsdel Coral Gables Mortuary at Woodlawn Park Cemetery.
(Information taken from newspaper articles in the Miami Herald and Miami News.)
I suspect Grant Stockdale told Robert and Edward Kennedy what he knew about the assassination on 26th November. Stockdale was obviously shocked when he discovered that the Kennedy brothers showed little interest in the story. In fact, Edward goes as far to undermine his credibility by questioning his mental state.
Why should the Kennedy brothers do this? Why, did they not want the case investigated? My own view is that Robert Kennedy was himself implicated in the killing of JFK.
After gaining power JFK was told details of the CIAs plot to kill Castro. Instead of bringing it to an end he attempted to bring it under his own control. The plan to assassinate Fidel Castro now became known as Operation Freedom and was to be run by his brother Robert Kennedy. Of course he had to rely on people like William Harvey to organize the killing of Castro but he insisted on being kept fully informed about what was taking place.
I believe someone involved in Operation Freedom decided to change their target from Fidel Castro to John Kennedy. By 1963 anti-Castro figures knew they would not be able to overthrow the socialist government of Cuba by assassinating Castro. The best way forward was by having a president who was willing to launch an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy would not do that (in fact he was at that time involved in negotiating a peace deal with Castro).
This is where the clever bit comes in. The CIA tell Robert Kennedy that they have selected an agent to kill Castro. His name is Lee Harvey Oswald. He is told that efforts were being made to get Oswald into Cuba to carry out the killing.
John Kennedy is then assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald is quickly announced as being the killer (the original plan was for Oswald to be killed but this fails and Jack Ruby is brought in to do the job).
Now consider the reaction of Robert Kennedy to the news that the man he had arranged to kill Castro had killed his brother. Any full investigation into Oswald and the Kennedy assassination would reveal details of Operation Freedom. What the CIA had cleverly done was to implicate Robert Kennedy in the killing of his brother. He could now be guaranteed to join in the cover-up.
On 26th November, Stockdale tells Robert and Edward that he knows what has happened. It is only a matter of time before Stockdale goes public. But is it in the interests of the Kennedy family to let the world know what has happened? This involves the world discovering that John and Robert Kennedy were involved in a plot to kill Fidel Castro. Might the reaction have been: he got what he deserves. The image of JFK as a honourable political figure would have been destroyed by this information. Robert Kennedys political career would also have been over. It would not have needed LBJ to tell the Kennedy brothers why it was important that they joined the cover-up. However, for it to work, Stockdale would have to be stopped from telling the truth.
I have to say I do find the Stockdale incident very interesting but there is a lot of speculation going on without some important data.
First, nothing in Adele's background mentions his earlier association with Hancock in Automatic Vending (even though Hancock was apparently a pall bearer at Stockdale's funeral). There is no mention of his other vending machine venture that got him into legal trouble with his appointment as ambassador and we have no details about that or how it ever came out? It is a bit unusual to see someone give up an appointment as Ambassador - that usually costs plenty of money in campaign contributions, what was going on with Stockdale's businesses and finances that brought that about?
As a close friend of JFK and a former business associate of Hancock it is very possible that Stockdale felt very badly about the Baker Serve U Corp scandal which was doing so much damage to the Administration - Stockdale could easily have ended up even being called as a witness on that. One of the big open issues that never got resolved was Hancock's real role in Serve U Corp beyond being apparently no more than a front for the company and not really involved in its business affairs. There is just a lot that we don't know about things that may have been affecting Stockdale in late 1963, aside from the murder of a close friend. One of the questions that crossing my mind is why no reporter did a better job with the Stockdale death, especially given his known association with some of the people involved in the explosive Serve-U corp scandal? Another is why he was apparently talking to lawyers right before his suicide?
I'm certainly not suggesting Stockdale might not have had some suspicions (although I really have a problem with him knowing anything specific about a threat to JFK and keeping it to himself for months). In any event, if he shared anything with the Kennedy family I find it very consistent that they gave him no response at all. There is a clear pattern of Kennedy family participation quashing any real investigation of conspiracy and in actually removing evidence - that has been documented elsewhere. There is a scenario that does explain that and I have addressed it in my book, it involves the secret war on Cuba, the Castro assassination attempts and national security. Whether or not we will ever know more about that than we do now is a good question, there are some good researchers pursuing that angle though.
On Stockdale, it's surely a lead worth pursuing but somebody needs to go back to the basics and investigate Frates, Gaither, Stockdale's personal and business situation etc. I just don't think we have enough data for conclusions.
Yes I guess that is factual, except I thought that when he came home from Ireland, that he no longer had any $ interest in Vending Machines. One thing I do know is that Kennedy asked Daddy to go to the Air Force Base South of Miami to see if (against Kennedy's orders) bombs were being loaded on the planes. Bombs were being loaded on the planes!! I believe one of the reasons Daddy was killed was because he knew that the Government was being run by the Military Complex.
The Military Complex didn't want the American People to realize (and still don't ) that they were calling the shots. Daddy knew he was being followed... & he told Mom that they were going to get him... and they did. There was an attempt on my life also several days after Daddy's funeral . I realize now that this was a scare tactic to silence my Mother... i.e. if you speak about anything, Your kids are dead. It worked!!
His (Grant Stockdale) reward was to be appointed in 1961 as ambassador to Ireland. The post had obvious sentimental value for Kennedy, and Stockdale was flattered. Once in Ireland, he went all out to represent the new administration and lavishly spent his personal money on embassy entertaining. Eighteen months later, he told Kennedy he was broke and had to go back to his real estate business in Miami.
The president understood. Stockdale appealed to Kennedy, perhaps, because he was all the things Kennedy was not: a self-made man who was precisely what he seemed to be. He had been a football star in college before serving in the war as a marine intelligence officer in the Pacific. "His life was an open book," Stockdale's son, also named Grant, told me in a 1996 interview. "When he got back to Miami, he told his friends he was broke. He was happy to have served, but happy to get back to his business."
Stockdale also knew how to keep his mouth shut. He had joined Kennedy in 1962 at one of his private parties in the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and later told his son that "there were women, beautiful women there." It was a world, Grant said of his father, "that was too fast for him. He was completely out of his league." He did not go back.
But now it was November 1963 and Stockdale was in the Oval Office. Grant told me the story his mother, Adie, had told him. Kennedy said, "I need you to raise some dough - fifty thousand dollars: "Why me?" "Because I need it and I can count on you to keep it quiet."What's it for?"It's for personal use."'
The president's request made his father very uneasy, Grant said. "He raised money," Grant told me. "That's what he did for the Democratic National Committee. But not for personal use. Stockdale asked the president, his son said, "How are you going to acknowledge this money [to donors]?" Kennedy said, 'It's never going to be acknowledged." His father returned to Miami and did what Kennedy asked - he raised $50,000 in cash, telling contributors that the money was for Jack Kennedy. "He hated it," Grant told me, "but he felt, Shit, it's the president: He was very distressed about being asked to raise cash for the president's personal use when he's got his own money problems. The clincher was the part about no acknowledgment. There was something wrong with the whole thing. He knew he was being used, and my mother knew he was being used. She really resented it. 'It's the craziest thing I've ever heard,' she said. `Don't do it. Turn it down.' But he felt he couldn't."
"So," Grant continued, "my father went around and collected money. I think he did it not believing that Kennedy wouldn't acknowledge it (as a loan or contribution) in some way. He couldn't believe it was so underhanded." There was no secret in Miami about Stockdale's money needs. "All of his buddies knew he was broke," Grant said, "because he was open about it: "Hey guys, I'm broke." He had trouble raising the $50,000 in cash, Grant told me. "Some of the people he approached were as incredulous as my mother was. They were simply disbelieving, and turned down the request:" Word began spreading in Miami, Grant added, that Stockdale was really raising the money for himself - that there was no Kennedy connection. "My father was devastated when he heard that story," Grant told me. "It got to his core. My father was still trying to figure out how he could get Kennedy to acknowledge the contributors when November twenty-second came."
A family friend had gone with his father, Grant said, to the Kennedy compound to deliver the money. "Kennedy said, Thank you, opened a nearby closet door, and threw the briefcase in there," Grant was told. "The closet was full of briefcases."
Kennedy's assassination devastated the Stockdale family, and left Stockdale with a serious problem, his son recalled. "He told everyone that the money he had collected was for Kennedy, but now he had no proof." Grant said that his father "was very worried about Bobby Baker. Why would my father be worried about Bobby Baker?"
Edward Grant Stockdale committed suicide by jumping from his office window in downtown Miami ten days after the president's murder. He was forty-eight years old. His son still wants to know why Kennedy needed the money.
In April, 1963, two months after President Bosch took office, Bobby made a trip back down to Santo Domingo. He stayed at the Ambassador Hotel and called his friend the minister, Diego Bordas, who by that time had taken a house on the outskirts of the city. Bordas had a party going at his house, so he sent his chauffeur down to the hotel to pick up Bobby. The two had an hour's visit, and then Bobby left.
Bobby had some other people with him when he made that April visit to Santo Domingo, but Bordas said he didn't get to meet them. Bordas might have enjoyed meeting Ed Levinson, the big time Las Vegas gambler, and he might have recognized Grant Stockdale, another member of Bobby's party. (Stockdale, of Miami, was Kennedy's ex-Ambassador to Ireland, who had been mixed up in the vending business with Eugene Hancock, the president of Serv-U, Bobby's vending concern.) The fourth member of Bobby's party was none other than that most colorful figure in Serv-U, Jack B. Cooper. And it is questionable whether Diego Bordas would have enjoyed meeting Cooper.
Jack Cooper had been found guilty in 1961 of income tax evasion in the case growing out of Cooper's help to Dictator Trujillo's regime in buying forty-two American made fighter planes through a front in Sweden. In 1962, Cooper's lawyers asked to have the United States reopen the income tax case. Cooper was prepared to admit that he had helped embezzle some $744,000 from the Dorrainican government. But Cooper maintained he only got to keep $69,000 because the Dictator's son, Rafael Trujillo, Jr., made off with the remainder. It doesn't seem that any reminiscences Cooper and Bordas could have exchanged would have been pleasant ones.