Frederick (Fred) Herman Korth was born in Yorktown, Texas on September 9, 1909 to Fritz Rudolf Julius Korth and Eleanor Marie Korth (nee Stark).(1) Fritz and Eleanor immigrated to the US from Westphalia, a one-time province of Prussia. The surname "Korth" was Anglicuzed from the original "Korte". Fred had one sibling; a brother named Romeo. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in 1932 and received his law degree from George Washington University in DC.
Korth joined the Army Air Force and served in the Air Transport Command reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served within the continental United States for the duration of WWII. It was in the Air Transport Command that he met and befriended Frank Pace.
Korth married Verita (Vera) Sansom Connell in 1934. They had three children, Nina Maria, Fritz-Alan and Verita Sansom. Verita was was killed by a shotgun blast in 1969. The death was ruled suicide. According to author, Jim Marrs, Vera stated during an interview with him that Fred separated from her in early November 1963 and never spoke to her again. They divorced in 1966. The separation occurred at around the time of his resignation as Secretary of the Navy. Korth married Charlotte Brooks in 1980.
After leaving law school, Korth ran his own law practice in Fort Worth. He returned to this practice after WWII. He was Vice-President of the Continental National Bank from 1953 to 1959 and President from 1959 to 1962.
Until his appointment as Secretary of the Navy, Korth was also on the board of Directors for both Bell Aerospace and the Panama Canal Company. In 1965, Korth opened up a new law firm in DC with his son, Fitz-Alan known as Korth and Korth and specializing in international law.(2)
Korth had joined the Democratic Party after leaving the army. In 1947-48 he helped John Connally with Lyndon Johnson's Congressional campaign.
In March 1951, on the recommendation of Frank Pace, Korth became Deputy Counsel to the Army. During the following year, he was made Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserves Affairs, a position which had been upgraded to deal with issues around defections and collaborations coming out of the Korean conflict. He left this position when the Democratic Party lost the White House, although he remained a consultant on these issues to the Army until 1960.
Korth became Secretary of the Navy on January 4, 1962 when his predecessor, John Connally made a run for Governor of Texas.(3) He resigned from this position effective November 1, 1963 due to issues surrounding the TFX contracts won by General Dynamics, and the use of government stationary in personal and business dealings. General Dynamics had many connections to high government officials, including Korth, and according to some reports was close to bankruptcy at the time, despite massive government contracts already in progress.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Korth had sided with the Generals against a blockade in favor of a military solution.(4)
President United Fund, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, 1957-1958. Board directors Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, Fort Worth, 1953-1963. Co-executor Marjorie Merriweather Post Estate, 1975, trustee, 1975-1998. Member national council Salk Institute. Trustee Meridian International Center, Washington, National Defense University Foundation, 1984-1990, Falcon Foundation/United States Air Force Academy, 1987-1992. Member American Bar Association, Texas Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association, American Law Institute (life), Order St. Lazarus, Texas, and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (treasurer 1957-1961), Phi Delta Phi, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Clubs: Georgetown (Washington), Army-Navy (Washington). Ridglea (Fort Worth). The Argyle (San Antonio). El Paso Country, Coronado Country.
Connection to the Family of Lee Harvey Oswald
In 1948, Korth acted as divorce lawyer for Edwin Ekdahl against Marguerite Oswald.(5) Ekdahl had worked out of an office directly opposite that of Korth's law firm. In the years after the assassination, Marguerite Oswald made various claims concerning Korth, including that he had played a role in Lee's life, citing as one example helping him to get an early “out” from the Marines.