The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2011

RR: Yes, she did. In fact, I wrote a tribute to her that ran in State maga- zine. I think by the time I became am- bassador to Finland a decade later, I very much modeled myself after what she had done as chief of mission in Oslo. She was very generous with staff, sharing representational funds and travel opportunities — all the kinds of things that are so enriching for junior and mid-grade officers. At the same time, she dealt with major policy questions. France was al- ready departing from NATO, and the Norwegians had a plebiscite coming up on the question of whether they were going to leave the Alliance, as well. In addition, Vietnam posed a challenge for NATO solidarity. And so there were many substantive issues on Embassy Oslo’s agenda. By the time I finished my three- year tour in Oslo, it was 1970. The United States was in turmoil, with the Kent State shootings, and the assassi- nations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and so much more. So it seemed like the right time to come back to the States, even though I was “off-cycle” for assignments. But that was when I met Joan Clark, who sort of talked John Hugh Crimmins into letting me be the Ecuador desk officer. And that began yet another phase of my career. FSJ: Did being a female FSO present any special challenges? RR: No, not really. First of all, I was a girl between two boys in my family and, if I’d sat down at the dinner table and said, “I want to be a fire chief some day,” no- body would have said, “You can’t.” So I sort of went through my career aware of the occa- sional slight, but not letting it be- come central to my feelings about the Foreign Service. There were a few things that came up early on, but again, I was 21 years old when I entered the Service. I don’t think I would have been handing senior positions to someone like me, either, until I’d had time to “grow up” in the Service. And about the time that I had begun to feel that something was wrong, I was selected for the job in RPM, which was a wonderful opportunity that didn’t come to a lot of other women. But the result is that I was not in the course of my career an “angry woman.” I think you have to have a passion and anger and a sense of having been hurt somehow or being disadvantaged to get involved in lawsuits and the like. And I simply didn’t share that passion. That said, I certainly knew women who had to resign from the Service simply because they had married. They had a real case, but that didn’t af- fect me. I see that separately. But as for the other complaints, I didn’t feel the passion to join in those fights. And so I didn’t. FSJ: When you did an oral history interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training some years back, you made a comment that Oslo was your loneliest tour. Was that just the place and stage of your life? J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 59 “Out of the blue, I heard from George Vest with an assignment to the Office of NATO Affairs, one of the most illustriously staffed offices in the State Department at the time.” Ambassador Ridgway with President Ronald Reagan and Chief of Staff Donald Regan at a 1985 White House dinner.