The Foreign Service Journal - September 2016
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Arminta Delle McNeilan Burns,

78, widow of the late FSO John Burns,

of Lantana, Fla., died on Feb. 7 from

complications arising from chemotherapy

treatments for lung cancer.

Arminta Delle McNeilan was born on

Sept. 26, 1937, in Columbus, Ohio, the

younger daughter of SteenMcNeilan and

Mary CameronMcNeilan. After a child-

hood spent in nearby Groveport, Ohio, her

family moved to West PalmBeach, Fla.,

in 1947. She graduated fromPalmBeach

High School in 1954, where she excelled at

academics and music, playing first flute in

the Florida Schools’ State Orchestra.

In 1958 she earned a B.S. degree from

Florida State University and went on to

complete postgraduate work in cancer

research at the University of Cincinnati’s

Christ Hospital. She earned a master’s

degree in political science at U.C. in 1962,

writing her thesis on Sino-Soviet relations.

After her marriage, Mrs. Burns studied

Thai politics and language at American


Mrs. Burns accompanied her husband,

who was one of the U.S. Information

Agency’s most prominent Africanists, to

many parts of the world during his 31-year

career (1964-1995) in the U.S. Foreign

Service. Their postings includedThailand,

South Africa (for two tours), Zambia, Zim-

babwe and Ethiopia.

During the couple’s diplomatic career,

she completed two book manucripts,

including one on the challenges the Afri-

can National Congress faced in transform-

ing its guerilla resistance movement into

a political party that could negotiate for

majority rule with the apartheid-support-

ing Nationalist Party then governing South


In addition to devoting time to aca-

demic research and administrative work,

Arminta Burns raised three children and

opened her home to friends, visitors, dig-

nitaries and foreign nationals.

Mrs. Burns is remembered as a kind

and nonjudgmental friend who was

culturally astute and cosmopolitan. She

maintained deep friendships and intel-

lectual interests in U.S. foreign affairs and

southern Africa, where she lived and vis-

ited regularly over the course of 30 years.

In semi-retirement, Mrs. Burns was

involved with the Lantana Public Library

in Lantana, Fla., supporting its mission

financially and through volunteer work.

She was preceded in death by her

husband, John Burns, and their eldest

daughter, Nancy A. Burns. She is survived

by a daughter, Catherine Burns; a son,

John Cameron Burns (and his wife, Tibitha

Miles Burns); a grandson, Jonathan Steen

Burns; as well as a sister-in-law, Ann

Burns; a nephew, Lt. Col. Brian R. Whalen

(U.S. Air Force, retired); Elizabeth Eagan

Whalen; and a niece, Anne-Marie Burns.

In lieu of flowers, mourners may make

donations to the Christ Hospital Foun-

dation in Cincinnati, Ohio. To express

condolences or make donations, visit


Ray Lee Caldwell,

74, a retired

Senior Foreign Service officer and former

State Department deputy assistant secre-

tary (DAS) with the rank of ambassador,

died on June 12 of complications related to

Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Caldwell was born on Oct. 6, 1942,

and raised in the former Canal Zone, Pan-

ama. He served as a commissioned officer

in the U.S. Navy from 1964 until 1969, with

tours of duty in the Antarctic, Vietnam and

with the U.S. military mission to Spain.

In 1971, Mr. Caldwell earned a gradu-

ate degree in political science from the

University of NewMexico. While pursuing

his graduate studies, he met Sally MacKin-

non Hisamoto, to whomhe was married

for 43 years.

Following graduation, Mr. Caldwell

joined the Foreign Service. Fluent in

Spanish, his first postings were to Mexico

and Spain. During his tour in Spain

(1976-1980), he worked diligently to help

stabilize a volatile political environment

in the Basque region, where he served as

acting principal officer at the U.S. consul-

ate in Bilbao.

In 1979, Mr. Caldwell received AFSA’s

WilliamR. Rivkin Award for Constructive

Dissent by a Mid-Level Foreign Service

Officer for his work in Spain to accommo-

date and incorporate the left into regular

political life and deal with regional resis-

tance to the central government.

While staying engaged in Spanish

developments, Mr. Caldwell went on to

expand his expertise to the field of Euro-

pean security and political affairs during

the final decade of the ColdWar. He served

as the U.S. representative to NATO’s High-

Level Task Force on Conventional Arms

Control and also played a leading role

in U.S. nuclear policy during the Ronald

Reagan and George H.W. Bush adminis-


Mr. Caldwell served twice as director of

the Office of European Political and Secu-

rity Affairs, as deputy assistant secretary of

State for European Affairs, as deputy assis-

tant secretary of State for political-military

affairs, and as State’s deputy associate

comptroller for management policy. Mr.

Caldwell also served as director of foreign

diplomat training at the Foreign Service


Ray Lee Caldwell rose to the level of

Career Member of the Senior Foreign Ser-

vice, Class of Minister-Counselor, and was

confirmed by the Senate in 1995 as DAS

for Burdensharing.

The unusual title of Mr. Caldwell’s

position caught the eye of grammarian

William Safire of

The New York Times

, who

wrote a column that year about whether