Joseph Edward Willard

Joseph Edward Willard (May 1, 1865 – April 4, 1924) was a Virginia politician, prominent philanthropist, and U.S. diplomat.

Joseph Edward Willard
United States Ambassador to Spain
In office
October 31, 1913  July 7, 1921
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byHenry Clay Ide
Succeeded byCyrus E. Woods
Member of the Virginia State
Corporation Commission
In office
October 1, 1905  February 18, 1910
Preceded byHenry Fairfax
Succeeded byJ. Richard Wingfield
19th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1902  February 1, 1906
GovernorAndrew J. Montague
Preceded byEdward Echols
Succeeded byJames Taylor Ellyson
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Fairfax County
In office
December 6, 1893  December 4, 1901
Preceded byR. C. Triplett
Succeeded byR. E. Lee, Jr.
Personal details
Joseph Edward Willard

(1865-05-01)May 1, 1865
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedApril 4, 1924(1924-04-04) (aged 58)
New York, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s)Belle Layton Wyatt
Alma materVirginia Military Institute

Early and family life

The son of prominent Washington hotelier and Union Army commissary major Joseph Clapp Willard (1820-1897) and former Confederate spy Antonia Ford, Joseph Willard had two brothers who died in infancy. He thus became his father's heir and very wealthy. He married Belle Layton Wyatt (1869-1954), and their daughter Belle (1892-1968) later married to Kermit Roosevelt.


Willard served for eight years in the Virginia House of Delegates, prior to his election as the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He held that office from 1902 through 1906, leaving after an unsuccessful run for Governor. The Virginia General Assembly then elected him a commissioner of the relatively new Virginia State Corporation Commission, where he served for four years.


In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Willard as the United States Ambassador to Spain. Upon the outbreak of World War I Willard was vacationing in the United States and returned to Europe aboard the USS Tennessee, although his only child, Belle, was sick with typhoid fever (she would recover).[1] Ambassador Willard held his position under successive presidents of both political parties until shortly before his death.

Death and legacy

Willard died in New York, New York, on April 4, 1924. His remains were returned to Washington, D.C. for burial at Oak Hill cemetery.[2]


  1. "Cruiser Off With $5,750,000 in Gold to Aid Americans," New York World, Aug. 7, 1914.
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Echols
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
James Taylor Ellyson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Henry Clay Ide
United States Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
Cyrus E. Woods
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