Wisner was obviously too sick to go to Spain. He was so depressed that his wife, Polly, worried that he would try to commit suicide. On October 28, before he drove out to his farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, she called the caretaker and asked him to remove the guns from the house. Wisner found one of his boys' shotguns and killed himself on October 29, 1965.
Wisner's death saddened but did not shock his colleagues. "I got a cable in Kuala Lumpur, where I was stationed," said Arthur Jacobs, the "Ozzard of Wiz" who had been Wisner's aide in the early 1950s. "The cable was from Des FitzGerald. It said that Frank had died and gave no reason, but I knew." Wisner's suicide was "entirely rational, if you can say such a thing," said his niece Jean Lindsey. "He realized that his life would be circumscribed by increasing cycles of depression. I saw Frank three days before he died and he seemed in good spirits. He talked about his children. Perhaps he had made up his mind to kill himself.
At his funeral the Bethlehem Chapel in the National Cathedral was overflowing with old friends who sang "Fling Out the Banner" as Wisner's family marched down the aisle at the end of the service. "Instead of a dirge, it was exuberant, powerful, exultant," recalled Tom Braden. At Arlington Cemetery, Frank Wisner was buried as a naval commander, his wartime rank. All the top officials of the agency, from director on down, were in attendance. (The CIA posted guards to keep the KGB from seeing who was there.)
Henry Breck, a junior CIA officer out of Groton and Harvard, watched his grim-faced elders as they mourned. They were defiant and proud, but besieged. The CIA was feeling particularly embattled that October. A month earlier word had spread through the agency that the New York Times was embarking on a first-ever investigation of the CIA.