Jeffrey Garten

For Ina Garten’s fans, the story of Jeffrey Garten‘s life might have begun the day he spied her on campus of Dartmouth University, not as a student, but the 15-year-old younger sister of a friend. "Look at that girl, isn’t she beautiful?" he said of Ina Rosenberg (via Food Network). But he had a life before he set eyes on his future wife, and most of what we know comes from an interview he granted to Johns Hopkins Magazine, which was published in 2016.

Garten was born into a military family, the younger of two boys. His father might have been low-key, but the elder Garten, who passed away in 2015, was a decorated military veteran who served across three wars and picked up a number of medals, including a Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, two Joint Commendation Medals, and two Air Medals. Garten says he remained in the dark about his father’s own military career and his heroism until much later, which is no surprise, because as he said in 2016, "Anyone who came into our house, if they didn’t know he was in the military, they would have never known he was this decorated soldier."

Jeffrey Garten is from a military family

Ina and Jeffrey Garten, 2018

To the Gartens, being a military family meant moving around quite a bit, and as a consequence, they lived in quite a few places across the United States and overseas. Jeffrey Garten lists England and Germany overseas, and North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Virginia, and Rhode Island among the places he and his family lived in (via Johns Hopkins Magazine).

And while living life on the road might sound exciting, Garten describes his growing up years as happy, but a bit lonely. We can only imagine that moving around as much as the Gartens did could have either made or broken family ties, and in their case, the Gartens became close. When it was time to leave for university, he chose Dartmouth, and enrolled in 1964 with a major in government. To help pay for his school fees, he joined the ROTC, and it was during his freshman year that he met Ina Rosenberg.

Ina Rosenberg and Jeffrey Garten had a long-distance relationship

Ina and Jeffrey Garten hugging

Garten and Ina’s first date took place at a coffee shop in Westport, a venue they decided on after a failed attempt to enter a bar in Port Chester, New York. Ina recalls: "It [the bar] was a disaster. I had never been to a bar in my life! The guy at the door says, ‘Where’s your ID?’ and I thought, ‘What ID?’" The mishap didn’t keep Jeffrey from sending letters and invitations to visit, and when Ina finally left home to go to college in Syracuse, she would make the six-hour trip to spend the weekend with him (via Food Network).

Their relationship was different from those of their peers, because as Jeffrey puts it, "It was very fashionable at the time for guys to date women who were going off to medical school or law school. but Ina was sending me shoe boxes of brownies and making me sweaters. And all these guys who were after those other women — they were in my room all the time, asking, ‘What did Ina send you this time?’" They married in 1968, says Insider.

Jeffrey Garten served in the U.S. Military

Signage for Fort Bragg

Because his tuition had been paid for by the US Military, Jeffrey Garten joined the 82nd Airborne Division in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and trained at Fort Bragg, where Johns Hopkins Magazine says his father had been base commander just a few months before. From soldier he worked his way up to captain, and he was assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School as an aide to the commanding officer. He also studied at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center where he learned to speak Thai (via Johns Hopkins Magazine).

His knowledge of the language made him the best person to send to the Thai/Burma border, where he became an adviser to a Thai combat unit which was fighting an insurgency. There it was his job was to help train local soldiers. Once his stint in the army ended, Garten returned to Washington and to what was then known as Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) to earn a masters degree. It was to change his life.

Jeffrey Garten has worked in government and on Wall Street

Exterior, US Commerce Department

With all that had gone on in Jeffrey Garten’s life, you’d think this would be the time when he might choose to kick back and slow things down a little. Instead, it marked another turn in Garten’s stellar career. A paper prepared for the National Security Council at the request of a former professor led to stints in the Nixon and, later, Carter administrations, before his wife Ina decided working in the White House was not for her. "My wife wanted to change her life, and I was all for it," Garten said (via Johns Hopkins Magazine). It was a few months of Garten commuting to New York before he was offered a job with investment banking firm Lehman Brothers, which he took, and he immediately distinguished himself by working out a deal that turned around two large Hong Kong shipping companies.

Garten worked on Wall Street for 13 years before he returned to government service as undersecretary of commerce for international trade during the Clinton administration.

Jeffrey Garten has continued his association with Yale University

Ina and Jeffrey Garten in 2018

Jeffrey Garten reinvented himself once again in 1995, when he signed on to become the dean of the Yale School of Management. He told Johns Hopkins Magazine that he didn’t know anything about academic management when he took on the job, but that he felt that the school needed to have a stronger sense of identity. During his 10 years there (via Yale), he felt he had left a mark on the storied institution, saying, "Yale has a lot of advantages. But I think I settled the school down and pointed it in the right direction. I did a few things I thought were important at the time, and the Yale reputation took over from there."

His association with Yale continues to this day, as he is the Juan Trippe Professor of International Trade, Finance and Business. He may not be as prolific as his wife Ina on the book front, but he has written several volumes of his own. He is chairman of his own global consulting firm, which helps global companies tackle and overcome transformational challenges, and he serves on the board of directors for several large companies, including Aetna Corporation, CarMax Inc, Credit Suisse Asset Management, as well as Standard and Poor’s.

In other words, not too shabby for someone whose equally famous wife once playfully hashtagged #drunkhubby after a fun brunch (via Instagram).