Rex Wayne Tillerson born March 23, 1952 is an American former government official and former energy executive who served as the 69th United States Secretary of State from February 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, under President Donald Trump. Originally a civil engineer, Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975. He rose to become chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, holding that position from 2006 until 2017, when he left to join the President Donald Trump administration.
Tillerson began his career as a civil engineer and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. By 1989 he had become general manager of the Exxon USA central production division. In 1995 he became president of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc. In 2006 Tillerson was elected chair and chief executive of Exxon, the world’s sixth largest company by revenue. Tillerson retired from Exxon effective January 1, 2017. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Tillerson is a long-time volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. From 2010 to 2012 he was the national president of the Boy Scouts, its highest non-executive position. He is a long-time contributor to Republican campaigns, but did not donate to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In 2014, Tillerson, who had made business deals on behalf of Exxon with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, opposed the sanctions against Russia. He has previously been the director of the joint United States-Russia oil company Exxon Neftegas.
Tillerson joined the Trump administration on February 1, 2017. Trump dismissed Tillerson on March 13, 2018, making his tenure one of the shortest in recent history. Trump stated that he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. Tillerson’s term officially ended on March 31, 2018; Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan served as acting secretary until Pompeo was sworn in.
Tillerson’s tenure was characterized by a lack of visibility in comparison to his predecessors in the traditionally high-profile position of Secretary of State. According to the American Foreign Service Association, during Tillerson’s tenure, new applications to work for the Foreign Service fell by 50%, and 60% of high-ranking career diplomats in the State Department resigned.
Rex Tillerson has been married twice. He divorced Jamie Lee Henry, his first wife, with whom he has twin boys. In 1986, Tillerson married Renda St. Clair, who has a son from her previous marriage. Tillerson also has a son, born in 1988, with St. Clair. Tillerson’s twin sons are engineers and hold their bachelor’s degrees from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2006, Tillerson was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate.
Tillerson resides in Bartonville, Texas. Following his appointment as Secretary of State, Tillerson bought a home in Kalorama, Washington, D.C.
He is a Congregationalist who holds a membership in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, a mainline Reformed denomination. He and his wife donated between $5,000 and $10,000 to the denomination’s The Congregationalist Magazine in 2012.
On February 20, 2014, news outlets reported that Tillerson and his wife had joined opponents of a proposed water tower that could lead to fracking-related traffic near their homes. Plaintiffs included former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey and his wife. The Tillersons dropped out of the lawsuit after a judge dismissed their claim in November 2014.
In 2015, Tillerson was named as the 25th most powerful person in the world by Forbes.
On May 16, 2018, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a graduation speech at Virginia Military Institute and warned that there is “a growing crisis in ethics and integrity.” “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”