Dean Rusk was born in Georgia in 1909. Educated at Davidson College, North Carolina and at Oxford University, he was appointed as Associate Professor of Government and Dean of Faculty at Mills College.
Rusk served in the United States Army during the Second World War. A member of the Democratic Party, Rusk was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as Special Assistant to the Secretary of War in 1946. He also served as Special Assistant for Far Eastern Affairs (1950-51).
Rusk lost office when Dwight Eisenhower was elected president in 1951 and served as head of the Rockefeller Foundation until being appointed as Secretary of State by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. In this post he had to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the country's growing involvement in the Vietnam War. He remained as Secretary of State under President Lyndon B. Johnson and remained in the post until Richard Nixon and the Republican Party gained power in 1969.
After his retirement Rusk published several books including Waging Peace and War: Dean Rusk in the Truman, Kennedy and Johnson Years (1988) and As I Saw It: A Secretary of State's Memoirs (1990).
Dean Rusk died in 1994.