Biographical Information:

Dates: 1904-1997Dates in Ridgefield: 1930-1997
fiction
publishing executive, journalist, government investigator

Robert Wohlforth, novelist and publishing executive, was both a government investigator and a man investigated by government. A native of New Jersey, he was born in 1904, went to Princeton, but quit to become a West Point cadet, graduating in 1927. While he loved The Point, his 1934 novel, Tin Soldiers, criticized aspects of cadet life, and some policies and traditions were changed as a result. As a reporter for The New York Daily Telegraph, he wrote articles critical of military waste-–one in 1934 described the Army’s spending $2 million annually to feed mules and only $495,000 for armored vehicles. In 1934, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate Committee staff investigating the munitions industry, and later joined the La Follette Committee, probing labor spying, strike-breaking and other anti-union activities. While in Washington, he wrote a regular front-page column for The Ridgefield Press on happenings in the capital. By 1939, President Roosevelt named him to the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice and during World War II, he investigated Nazi economic connections worldwide. However, in 1952, he was forced out of government employment by the McCarthy probes when, based on social acquaintance with some "left-wingers," the Department of Justice found him a security risk. He then helped found the publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux, of which he was longtime treasurer. A Ridgefielder since 1930, Mr. Wohlforth called himself in later life “Ridgefield’s Oldest Living Continuous Vertical Commuter.” In 1946, he helped write the town’s zoning ordinance and served on the Zoning Commission for many years. He also helped establish the Main Street historic district, served as chairman of the library board, and as a director of the Nature Conservancy. In 1977, for the re-enactment of the Battle of Ridgefield, he played General Benedict Arnold, riding a white horse in colonial garb. His wife was journalist and novelist Mildred Gilman Wohlforth. He died in 1997 at the age 93. Three years later, his Rockwell Road home was declared the town's first historic house under a new ordinance protecting the integrity of notable houses outside historic districts. Only then did his family sell it.

Titles:Tin Soldiers, A Novel, 1934A Nickelodeon Childhood, 1978
--Sources: Notable Ridgefielders-Jack Sanders; www.paw.princeton..edu/memorials (Princeton Alumni Weekly); Amazon.com