The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2024

60 JULY AUGUST 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL IN MEMORY n Robert Louis Barry, 89, a retired Foreign Service officer and former ambassador, died on March 11, 2024, at his home in Newton, Mass., of vascular dementia. Mr. Barry was born on Aug. 28, 1934, in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Louis and Margaret (O’Halloran) Barry. His father was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force; the family moved from base to base during World War II. Mr. Barry graduated from Lansdowne High School outside Philadelphia, Pa., before attending Dartmouth College on a Navy scholarship. In 1956 he graduated with a degree in international relations and a focus on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He then received a fellowship to study Soviet affairs at Oxford University. While there, he was so outraged by news of the Soviet crackdown in Hungary that he traveled by train to the country’s border with Austria on his winter vacation, hoping to assist refugees leaving the country. He reconsidered those plans when faced with a row of Soviet tanks but would spend most of the next four decades engaging with the Soviet Union. Among his companions on that illfated trip to Hungary to assist refugees was his future wife, Peggy, a student at the University of Michigan who was working as a nanny for a French family. Mr. Barry spent three years in the U.S. Navy before joining the Foreign Service in 1962. He recalled the Foreign Service oral examination as fearsome—one of the questions was, “Name all the international straits that would be closed if the territorial waters of states were increased from three miles to 12.” But one of the examiners winked at him, so he knew he had passed. His early postings introduced him to the nitty-gritty of diplomacy. As a consular officer in Zagreb, he managed the case of a woman who fell off the Orient Express train in Slovenia and was found wandering in her nightclothes. From there, he was posted to Moscow and then to Leningrad, in the Soviet Union. Returning to Washington, D.C., in 1974, he oversaw travel controls over Soviet diplomats in Washington and began the search for secure sites for embassies in Washington and Moscow. This was a losing battle: Work on the U.S. embassy building in Moscow halted suddenly in 1985, when it became clear that the entire building was laced with listening devices that had been built into the steel framing. From 1981 to 1984, Mr. Barry served as the ambassador to Bulgaria. He then became a diplomat in residence at Dartmouth College. Later, he served as head of the U.S. delegation to the Stockholm Conference on Disarmament in Europe (1985-1987), where he would negotiate a treaty that for the first time allowed the U.S. and Soviet militaries to perform on-site inspection of military facilities, a building block for arms control agreements that followed. As he was preparing to travel to Stockholm for another round of negotiating with the Soviets, Amb. Barry received catastrophic news. His 20-yearold son, Peter, a sophomore at Yale, had found work that summer on a salmon fishing boat in Alaska and died when it sank with all hands. Amb. Barry traveled to Alaska to identify the body and, together with his wife, began a campaign to bring safety regulations to commercial fishing vessels. Three years later, these efforts resulted in passage of the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act. Amb. Barry’s other diplomatic assignments included deputy assistant secretary for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (1979-1981); deputy director of Voice of America (1988-1990); and special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, coordinating assistance to Eastern Europe (1991-1992). His final overseas assignment was as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia (1992-1995). After retiring from the State Department, Amb. Barry became head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1998 to 2001. Amb. Barry is survived by his wife, Peggy; daughter Ellen; son John; son-inlaw Kiya Wilson; daughter-in-law Edit Barry; and grandchildren Alice, June, and Nathaniel. His younger son, Peter, died in 1985. n Peggy Blackford, 82, a retired Foreign Service officer and U.S. ambassador, died in New York City on March 30, 2024. Ms. Blackford was born in 1942 in Ewing, N.J., where she graduated from Ewing High School. Her parents were both active in civic affairs, and, in their memory, she established a scholarship fund that awards a yearly grant to a Ewing High graduate who has demonstrated a commitment to the community. She received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University and a master’s in business administration from Pace University. In 1972 Ms. Blackford joined the State Department as a Foreign Service officer, serving overseas in Kenya, Brazil, France, and Mali. In 1995 she was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Republic of GuineaBissau. While there, she earned an award for her courage and leadership during the violent coup d’état that racked the nation in 1998.