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American Diplomacy
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October 2005

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A Passing Tribute

This observer noted with more than a little sadness the death this past July 7th in Virginia of retired ambassador Davis Eugene Boster, a colleague on a Foreign Service tour years long gone by. I did not have the privilege of claiming him as a personal friend over the years. We only met once, briefly, after serving together at the embassy in Kathmandu for more than two years in the 1960s, where he was deputy chief of mission and I, second secretary.

Relationships often were (and presumably still are) like that in the Foreign Service -- here today and long gone tomorrow, with paths sometimes crossing again only seldom, or maybe never. Nonetheless, as my boss at the embassy in Nepal, Boster made a lasting and positive impression on me. I was a mid-career officer who labored, then and later, under a number of boss-men and boss-ladies in the Service; no one ever proved his superior in that role. He was an accomplished, first-rate diplomat and supervisor, as well as an interesting, personable, broad-gauged human being.

Gene Boster formed part of the post-World War II generation of Foreign Service officers, having entered as a staffer in 1947 following service as a naval officer in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. (I remember his recounting how his ship called at Pusan, Korea, at the end of the war; thus he had the distinction of visiting that country several years before the Korean War broke out.) In the Navy he learned Russian, which led to diplomatic postings where the language could be put to good use, with Moscow as his first post. In 1954, while assigned at Bonn, he received a commission as an FSO.

Other assignments related to Soviet affairs followed, including in Washington and an assignment again to Moscow, this time as political counselor. Then Kathmandu, followed by ambassadorships to Bangladesh and, later, to Guatemala. He retired in 1979 and eventually settled in Arlington, Virginia. Gene was eighty-four at the time of his death.

Little further need be said here for me to make my point. The Foreign Service and the nation have been doubly well served by the young men who came out of “the War,” having honorably and ably served in the armed forces, and who then proceeded to serve with equal honor and ability in the nation's Foreign Service. We all know representatives of that generation; for me, Gene Boster certainly personified that group of outstanding Americans.

-- The Editor


Henry Matox is the Editor of American Diplomacy.

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