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MAY 2017



U.S. embassy in Taiwan in 1963 as politi-

cal and commercial officer, returning to

Washington again in 1966 to serve suc-

cessively as Taiwan desk officer, deputy

director of PRC affairs and attend the

National War College.

From 1971 to 1975—the period that

saw the end of the Cultural Revolu-

tion, the rise of the “Gang of Four” and

the death of Mao Zedong—Mr. Thayer

served as deputy political counselor at

the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in

New York City, and was then posted to

the American Liaison Office in Beijing as

deputy chief of mission under George H.

W. Bush from 1975 to 1976.

In 1980, Mr. Thayer was appointed

U.S. ambassador to Singapore, serving

until 1984, when he was named director

of the American Institute in Taiwan until


Ambassador Thayer retired from the

Foreign Service in 1989 as dean of the

Foreign Service Institute School of Lan-

guage Studies. During a distinguished

30-year career he was recognized with

the Meritorious Service Award, two

Superior Honor Awards and the Distin-

guished Honor Award.

Amb. Thayer soon returned to the

State Department as a consultant to

the Office of Asylum Affairs and, later,

as a reemployed annuitant, worked as

a reviewer for Asia in the Freedom of

Information office. He was a member of

the FOIA Appeals Panel at the time of

his illness and had hoped to return to


In retirement he volunteered with

Meals on Wheels and the Community

Council for the Homeless at Friend-

ship Place. He was a member of the

American Foreign Service Association,

DACOR, the Far East Luncheon Group,

the Washington Institute of Foreign

Affairs, the C&O Canal Association and

an array of organizations in support of

the environment, civil rights and human


Family members and friends remem-

ber Amb. Thayer not only as a consum-

mate diplomat, but also as a cultured

and modest man with a wry sense of

humor who savored the serenity of the

outdoors. He took a deep interest in oth-

ers and relished the accomplishments

and exploits of his extended family and

many friends.

Ambassador Thayer is survived by his

wife, Marion GuggenheimThayer; four

children from his first marriage to Joan

Pirie: Robert, Nathaniel and Margaret

Thayer of Washington, D.C., and Marian

Thayer Vito of West Chester, Pa.; three

stepchildren from his second marriage

to Edith G. Browne: Olin, Luis and Jer-

emy Browne; three stepchildren: Grace,

Davis and Jonathan Guggenheim; five

grandchildren: Amanda, Julia and John

Thayer, and Nathaniel and James Vito;

seven step-grandchildren; a step-great-

grandson; and a sister, Marian Thayer

Toland. His brothers, Frederick, Thrus-

ton and Nelson Thayer, predeceased


Memorial contributions may be

made to the Potomac Conservancy or to

the C&O Canal Association.


Richard S. Thompson,

83, a

retired Foreign Service officer, died

peacefully at his home in Bethesda, Md.,

on March 7.

Born in Spokane, Wash., in 1933, Mr.

Thompson grew up in Pullman, Wash.

After graduating from Washington State

University in 1955, he attended Oxford

University for two years as a Rhodes

Scholar, followed by two years in the U.S.

Army. He earned an MA in government

from Georgetown University.

Mr. Thompson joined the State

Department Foreign Service in 1960.

During a 27-year diplomatic career, he

served in Aruba and Curaçao, Niger,

Vietnam, France and Algeria, as well as

in assignments at the State Department

in Washington, D.C.

The highlight of his career was his

three tours in Saigon. He arrived in

Vietnam in January 1968, one week

before the Tet offensive, which included

an attack on the U.S. embassy. In 1972

and 1973, he participated in the Vietnam

peace talks in Paris.

Mr. Thompson’s final tour in Viet-

nam ended when he was evacuated by

helicopter from the embassy roof dur-

ing the fall of Saigon in April 1975. His

article about that experience, “Leaving

Saigon: An FSO’s Last Day in Vietnam,”

appeared in the April 2000 Foreign Ser- vice Journal .

While serving in Algiers from 1980

to 1982, Mr. Thompson supported

the negotiations for the release of the

American hostages in Iran.

After retiring from the Foreign Ser-

vice in 1987, he worked for 12 years at

the American Foreign Service Associa-

tion as the professional issues coordina-

tor and was the unofficial proofreader

for each edition of

The Foreign Service



Mr. Thompson enjoyed travel, ten-

nis, music, walking on the towpath

and spending time with family. He is

survived by two sons, John of Bethesda,

Md., and Alex of Columbus, Ohio; a

daughter, Francesca, of Washington,

D.C.; and five grand-daughters: Stella,

Sophia, Lucy, Roxanne and Nina.

Donations in his memory may be

made to the Albert W. Thompson Schol-

arship Fund at the Washington State

University Foundation.