The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

86 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL his service stateside, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico. After college he worked for a time as a salesman for a plate glass company in Toledo. But when he heard that the State Department was looking for people who could speak Hungarian, he decided to travel to Washington, D.C., for an interview. Mr. Nagy was hired and assigned to Budapest, where he met his wife, Helen. She had joined the Foreign Service as a secretary in 1951. The couple married in Budapest and had a son, David, before being transferred to the United States a month before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In 1960 Mr. Nagy was posted to Berlin, where Berliners ecstatically welcomed President John F. Kennedy in 1963. At his first stop at the Kongresshalle, President Kennedy saw a quote fromBenjamin Franklin in German and asked what it meant. Mr. Nagy gave a quick translation. Intrigued, the president asked him to write it down, whichMr. Nagy did on the back of an envelope. While a host of speak- ers held forth, he watched the president studying the envelope andmaking edits to the cards that held notes for his later speech at the Rathaus. Kennedy ended up discarding his prepared speech and extemporaneously riffed on the quote: The result was his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Mr. Nagy served for 34 years, with tours in Copenhagen, Rome, Heidelberg and London. He was also a diplomat-in-resi- dence at the University of Arkansas. In retirement, Ernst and Helen Nagy settled inWashington, D.C. Once a year, they always took at least one big road trip in the United States, because home leave habits die hard, and one overseas trip. Mrs. Nagy took on contract jobs for interesting assignments, such as work- ing on the advance team for presidential visits to Kiev and Vancouver. In 1999, an accident left Mr. Nagy a quadriplegic. He underwent several years of arduous rehabilitation, regaining the use of his upper limbs, though with much less strength and control. In time, he was able to walk again with a walker. The couple relocated to California to be near their son in 2011. In 2016 the Hungarian government invitedMr. Nagy to fly to Budapest for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. His son, David, accompanied him. Inmany ways, it was a full circling back to the real beginning of Mr. Nagy’s adult life. Shortly afterThanksgiving 2017, Mr. Nagy died in his sleep. Friends remember him as an extraordinarily smart, witty and kindman. Despite the cruel bad luck of his spinal cord injury, friends never heard him complain or feel sorry for himself. Mr. Nagy was predeceased by his wife, Helen, who suffered fromAlzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his son, David. n Edward J. Perkins , 92, a retired member of the Senior Foreign Service and former ambassador with the rank of Career Minister, died on Nov. 7, 2020. He received AFSA’s 2020 Award for Lifetime Contribu- tions to American Diplomacy (see his interview in the December FSJ ). Mr. Perkins was born in Sterlington, La., on June 8, 1928, and grew up there and in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Portland, Ore. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Uni- versity of Maryland in 1968, andmaster’s (1972) and Ph.D. (1978) degrees in public administration from the University of Southern California. After serving for three years in the U.S. Army and four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he joined the Foreign Service in 1972. In addition to several domestic postings, his early assignments included Ghana and Liberia, where he served as deputy chief of mission. In 1985 he was appointed U.S. ambas- sador to Liberia, and in 1986 he was named ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, where he served for three years during the final days of apartheid. Appointed Director General of the Foreign Service in 1989, he made diversity a priority. In 1992 he was appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Representative on the U.N. Security Coun- cil. In 1993 he was named U.S. ambassador to Australia, where he served until his retirement in 1996. On retiring, he was appointed the Wil- liam J. Crowe Chair and executive director of the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma, serving from 1996 until 2010. While there, he wrote his mem- oir, Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006). Ambassador Perkins receivedmany awards during his Foreign Service career, and his affiliations were numerous, includ- ing being an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. But among the most important were theThursday Luncheon Group, of which he was a founding mem- ber, and the Association of Black American Ambassadors, where he served as presi- dent at the time of his death. His commitment to the recruitment, retention and advancement of historically underrepresented groups in the Foreign Service and State Department led to the establishment of the Pickering and Rangel Fellowship programs. Colleagues and friends remember Amb. Perkins as a passionate champion of diplomacy and a leader who throughout his career advocated a more diverse State Department and Foreign Service as both a moral and a strategic imperative. Once asked how he wished to be