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APRIL 2015


A lifelong AFSA member, Ted served as the association’s elected president

from 1989 to 1991 and as FSJ Editorial Board chair from 2005 to 2011.


Steven Alan Honley, a Foreign Service officer from 1985 to 1997, is

The Foreign Service Journal

’s contributing editor.


f one were going to put a Foreign Service character into a

novel, one could hardly come up with a better name than

“Theodore Stark Wilkinson III.” In keeping with the sheer

heft of that triple-barreled moniker, the actual bearer of

that noble name was a strikingly tall man with a proud

lineage and imposing intellect. Yet he was known to one

and all simply as Ted—a gentleman and a gentle man, as

his friend and colleague Tom Boyatt aptly puts it.

Ted Wilkinson was born in Washington, D.C., on

Aug. 27, 1934, the son of Vice Admiral Theodore Stark “Ping”

Wilkinson and Catherine Harlow Wilkinson. His father, a Medal

of Honor recipient for the 1914 Veracruz campaign in Mexico,

would later serve as chief of naval intelligence. Vice Admiral

Wilkinson became commander of the Third Amphibious Force

in the Pacific in 1943 and was credited with developing the

“leapfrogging” strategy designed to seize control of the South-

west Pacific islands occupied by Japan.

After graduating with a B.A. in political science fromYale in

1956, the younger Wilkinson followed his father’s footsteps into the

U.S. Navy. (He later earned a master’s degree in international rela-

tions fromThe George Washington University.) After four years as

a naval intelligence officer, Ted joined the Foreign Service in 1961.

Over a distinguished 35-year career, he developed specialties

in Latin American affairs and arms control, serving as minister

A True Gentleman:

Theodore S. Wilkinson III,


counselor for political affairs in Mexico City (during his second

assignment there) and Brasilia, both during the 1990s. He also

served at the United Nations and NATO, and in several European

and Latin American capitals.

Ted’s diplomatic contributions continued even after he retired

from the Foreign Service in 1996. For the next two years, he served

on the ambassadorial-level, four-nation Guarantor Support Com-

mission, which helped reach a 1998 accord to end a bloody, long-

running border dispute between Peru and Ecuador.


Ted Wilkinson shakes hands with President Carlos Salinas de

Gortari of Mexico while serving in Mexico City in the early 1990s.

Courtesy of Xenia Wilkinson