Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It was enjoyable talking with Ambassador Holsey G. Handyside '45 when he paid a recent visit to WRA Archives. Holsey has the longest record of service among WRA alumni who have been with the State Department as foreign service officers. Holsey went to Amherst, spent a year at the University of Grenoble, then earned a master's degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton before joining the State Department as an Arabic language specialist. His postings included Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad in the early 1960's, Tripoli in Libya, and then in the 1970's he became Ambassador to Mauritania in western Africa.
Always a loyal WRA alumnus, Holsey was a cheerleader during his years as a student, was a member of the Rally Band where he played flute and piccolo, and graduated with honors. He later served on the Board of Visitors, and in 1977 was awarded the Waring Prize, WRA's highest honor. He established a Chamber Music Fund in 1973. This past June he was awarded the WRA Alumni Association Award. Holsey still lives in his family home in the center of Bedford, and maintains a residence in Washington, D. C.
Another WRA alumnus, H. Earle Russell, Jr. '41, whose father had been in the Foreign Service, became a junior diplomat after World War II when he and his young wife were posted to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the reign of Haile Selassie. They were in Tunisia in the 1950's when they were profiled in a feature article in the Saturday Evening Post titled, "We Like the Foreign Service Life", written by Earle Russell's wife, Beatrice Ann. In 1971 Russell, his wife, 14-year old son, and a friend of his son's set out from Rabat, Morocco to cross the Sahara Desert by car on their way to Dakar, Senegal where Russell was to take up his new post. They lost their way, the car broke down, and Earle Russell died of sunstroke trying to repair their car in 105-degree heat. His wife, son, and friend survived and were rescued, and Beatrice Ann Russell continued to work for the State Department for many years.
Other alumni who have had careers or partial careers in the Foreign Service include Philip C. Narten '41 who was posted to Liberia and France; James B. Freeman '42 who served in Paraguay, Germany, France and Indonesia; Thomas E. Street '34 who was an agriculture attache in India, Switzerland, and France; William E. Camp '48, a Korean War veteran, who served in Norway; John Seabury Ford '63 whose posts included Germany and Moscow; James M. Lynch '70, who was in Rwanda, Senegal, and at the consulate in Vancouver, B.C. Still serving abroad are James Hugh Geoghan '63 who was recently posted to Cairo and Baghdad, and Ryan D. Wirtz '99, last seen at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, who hosted a visit from WRA's Ralf Borrmann and a student group a few years ago.