William A. Wilson

William Wilson

William A. Wilson, the first American to serve as ambassador to the Vatican and a member of President Reagan's "kitchen cabinet" of advisers, died Saturday at his home in Carmel, Calif. He was 95.

Wilson was among a group of about a dozen conservative, wealthy Los Angeles businessmen who became confidantes and advisers to Reagan, first as he sought to become governor of California, and later, president. They also helped bankroll his campaigns for office. The businessman met Reagan and his wife at a dinner party in the early 1960s, when the future politician was first and foremost an actor.

Reagan first appointed Wilson as presidential envoy to Rome in 1981, when the United States did not have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican because of an 1867 U.S. law that prohibited establishing such ties to maintain separation of church and state.

In 1984, after the law was repealed, Reagan appointed Wilson as the first ambassador, and he served in the post for about two years.