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MARCH 2016





Weyland Beeghly,

72, a retired For-

eign Service officer with the U.S. Depart-

ment of Agriculture, died at home on Dec.

10 in Omaha, Neb., after a two-month


Mr. Beeghly was born on April 23,

1943, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Milford and

Dorothy (Graham) Beeghly. Raised on

the family’s 500-acre farm near Pierson,

he graduated from Kingsley-Pierson High

School in 1961, attended McPherson

College in McPherson, Kan., for two years

and received a degree in agriculture jour-

nalism from Iowa State University in 1965.

He married Susan Caylor of Anderson,

Ind., in 1970, and the couple moved to

Ithaca, N.Y., where Beeghly graduated

fromCornell University in 1972 with a

master’s degree in agricultural economics.

Mr. Beeghly joined the Foreign Agri-

culture Service of the U.S. Department of

Agriculture as an analyst in the Grain &

Feed Division in 1973. He and his family

moved to the former USSR in 1976 where

he served as the assistant agricultural

attaché at Embassy Moscow.

After a break to work the family farm

from 1978 to 1983, Beeghly returned to

the Foreign Service, where he spent the

remainder of his career. He served as

agricultural counselor in the former Soviet

Union (1983-1986), Thailand (1986-1990),

Poland (1991-1993) and India (1998-

2002). During several tours at USDA in

Washington, D.C., he and his family lived

in Alexandria, Va.

Mr. Beeghly was diagnosed with Par-

kinson’s disease in 2002 and retired from

the Foreign Service in 2004. He and his

wife moved to Omaha in 2011 to be closer

to his daughter and sisters.

Colleagues remember Mr. Beeghly as a

man of many talents: a singer/songwriter/

guitarist, who wrote and performed songs

about animal husbandry; a humorist and

storyteller, who schooled the agricultur-

ally ignorant on the exciting intricacies

of plant and animal reproduction; and a

gifted writer of both the prosaic and the


Some members of the Foreign Service

may recall his amusing correspondence

and tongue-in-cheek cable communica-

tions; others may recall his bovine attire

at a country teammeeting in Bangkok or

his booming baritone belting out a bluesy

rendition of “Pig Piles in the Wintertime”

at the Warsaw Embassy Follies.

His family remembers him as a teas-

ing, affectionate, dependable presence in

their lives, a person who loved interesting

dinner table conversation, brisk walks,

card games with his grandchildren, musi-

cal gatherings of friends, bawdy jokes,

Brussels sprouts and ice cream.

Mr. Beeghly is survived by his wife,

Susan; three children: Graham Beeghly of

Santa Monica, Calif., Laura Beeghly (and

her husband, Brian Priesman) of Omaha,

Neb., and Benjamin Beeghly (and his wife,

Anna) of Baltimore, Md.; four grandchil-

dren, Tessa and Ezra Priesman, and Milo

and Mira Beeghly; and two sisters, Bev-

erlee McCollum and Bonnie Nigro, both

of Omaha. He is preceded in death by his

parents, Milford and Dorothy Beeghly of

Pierson, Iowa.

In lieu of flowers, please send dona-

tions to the National Parkinson’s Founda-



Robert Orris Blake,

94, a career

diplomat, former ambassador and sus-

tainable agriculture advocate, died on

Dec. 28 at his home in Washington, D.C.

Born in Los Angeles, Calif., on April

7, 1921, Robert Blake grew up in Whit-

tier, Calif., where Pat Nixon was his high

school typing teacher. He attended

Stanford University, graduating early in

1943, when he left to begin officer training

as a naval seaman. He served as an officer

on the U.S.S.


in the Pacific. After

completing a master’s degree at the John

Hopkins University School of Advanced

International Studies, he joined the For-

eign Service in 1947.

During a three-decade-long career, Mr.

Blake served in Nicaragua, Moscow and

Tokyo, before returning to Washington

to head up the Soviet desk at the State

Department. A Russian speaker, he served

as a Soviet expert in the U.S. Mission to the

United Nations during the Cuban Missile

Crisis. He also served as a political officer

in Tunis and deputy chief of mission in

Kinshasa and Paris. In 1970 President

Richard Nixon appointed himU.S. ambas-

sador to the Republic of Mali, where he

served until 1973.

After a distinguished career in the dip-

lomatic corps, Ambassador Blake began

a second career in international sustain-

able development. Concerned that U.S.

government agencies were funding the

destruction of natural resources around

the world, he joined the London-based

International Institute for Environment

and Development as a senior fellow in

1977, heading up their advocacy work in


There, he co-authored two books

about actions allied nations were taking

to address environmental challenges

in the developing world, and organized

the Tropical Forest Action Group that

convinced USAID to withdraw funding for

clearing tropical forests for cattle ranches

in Latin America.

In 1986, Amb. Blake founded the

Committee on Agricultural Sustainability

for Developing Countries that worked

to influence the agricultural and rural

development policies and programs of the

World Bank, USAID and the Inter-Amer-

ican Development Bank. He believed

in “the absolute need to make farm-

ers—especially the female farmers who