THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
his sister, Georgine Sargent; his four
children, Walter Sargent III (and his wife,
Sandra), Stuart Sargent, Kathleen Kogel
(and her husband, Samuel) and Deborah
Stitt; and grandchildren, nieces, nephews,
brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
Donations in Walter Sargent’s name
may be made to Tidewell Hospice in
88, a retired
Foreign Service officer, died peacefully on
Sept. 30 at her home in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Wazer was born on Aug. 4, 1928,
the youngest of nine children, in Forest
City, Pa. Because there was no possibil-
ity of attending college for a poor girl in
the mining country of Pennsylvania, she
left immediately after high school to live
with her older siblings in Hartford, Conn.,
where she was expected to be a secretary
in a factory.
Quickly realizing that such a life was
not for her, she hopped on a cross-country
bus, carrying all her possessions in a card-
board suitcase, with a friend, Cecilia. After
a fewmonths in San Francisco working as
phone operators, Ms. Wazer and Cecilia
saw an ad for postwar Department of
Defense jobs in occupied Japan.
They lied about their age (they were
not yet 21) and were soon off on a troop
ship to work as clerks in the U.S. hospitals.
When they got off the ship, they were sent
to different posts—Ms. Wazer ended up at
Nagoya Air Base, where she spent the next
several years clerking. In the early 1950s
Nagoya became very busy as an evacua-
tion base for Korean War casualties.
While in Nagoya, she became friendly
with a few State Department employees
who convinced her to go back to college.
After one semester at the University of
Maryland, Ms. Wazer met a State Depart-
ment recruiter on campus and decided
she would work for State for a few years to
try to earn the money to return to college.
She received a few weeks of training
and was off to work as a clerk in Calcutta.
She credits the post-partition British for
teaching her proper etiquette, how to
formally eat, how to entertain and, sadly,
how to smoke. After Calcutta she planned
to go back to college, but they offered her
Paris, and in her words, “How could a girl
say no to Paris?”
After Paris, she returned to Japan,
serving as a vice consul. Frustrated
that women were not allowed to learn
Japanese, she secretly took private, early
morning Japanese lessons before work.
She was then assigned to Bucharest,
where she was miserable serving in the
oppressive environment of the communist
country. She contemplated leaving the
Foreign Service, and spent the next several
months trying to get “PNG’d” (kicked out
as persona non grata).
Fortunately, a year later, U.S. Ambassa-
dor to Japan Edwin Reischauer was look-
ing for a woman to serve in Tokyo who
spoke Japanese, and her friends helped
get her called back to Japan.
Ms. Wazer served for the next decade
as protocol officer in Tokyo. Each time
Washington tried to move her after the
normal two-year posting, the current
ambassador (Reischauer, Johnson,
Meyer, then Ingersoll) would pull some
strings to allow her to continue. She
spent one of those years as protocol
officer for Expo 1970, giving tours of the
exhibit to visiting dignitaries, a young
Prince Charles among them.
Sadly, in 1972, she had to leave her
beloved Japan. Assigned to Korea, she
was cold and unhappy enough after eight
months to volunteer to serve in a war
zone. In 1973, she was assigned to Saigon.
Her assignment there ended with
burning passports, papers and money
before leaving on a helicopter on April 30,
1975, in Operation Frequent Wind. Once
she safely landed on the USS
she dropped the final suitcase of visa and
passport stamps into the ocean. The State
Department awarded her the Meritorious
Service Award in 1975.
After a two-year stint recovering
in warm Port-au-Prince in 1977, she
returned to Southeast Asia to help
establish the Orderly Departure Program
to assist refugees resettle fromVietnam.
From 1980 to 1984, Ms. Wazer served as
consul general in Jakarta.
In September 1984, she was assigned
to Beirut. Her arrival was delayed by riots
at the airport. As she was getting out of
the car at the embassy, a suicide bomber
detonated, killing at least 20 people. For
her service during the ensuing chaos, Ms.
Wazer received the State Department
Superior Honor Award in 1985.
That year she returned to Tokyo once
more, to serve as consul general, the first
woman to serve in this position in Japan.
In 1989, she served as the principal officer
at the U.S. consulate in Brisbane and, in
1992, she returned to the Orderly Depar-
ture Program as program coordinator.
Retirement in 1995 was only a minor
pause. Ms. Wazer spent the next 20 years
working as a consultant, taking assign-
ments as acting consul general for a
month or two in many Southeast Asian
countries. Her last service was in 2011,
where at the age of 83, she spent many
night shifts on the phone using her fluent
Japanese to help reunite families after the
great Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Ms. Wazer is survived by her nieces,
nephews and countless friends through-
out the world.
Donations in her name may be made
to Capital Caring (www.capitalcaring.
org) or the George Washington Hospital
House Calls Program (go.gwu.edu/