Richard E. Undeland, USIA officer

January 12, 2013

Richard E. Undeland, 82, a public-affairs officer at the U.S. Information Agency who worked throughout the Middle East, died Dec. 21 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County. He had renal failure, congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

His wife, Joan Undeland, confirmed the death.

Mr. Undeland worked for the USIA from 1957 to 1992, with his final assignment in Tunisia. Earlier postings included Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, and he also served in South Vietnam in 1964 and 1965.

In the late 1970s, he was a State Department deputy spokesman during the peace talks between Egypt and Israel held at Camp David.

When Mr. Undeland was stationed in Jordan in the early 1970s, his wife said, he participated in a high-level U.S. diplomatic mission. Part of the assignment included a trip on a Jordanian government plane, whose pilot was King Hussein of Jordan, she said.

Mr. Undeland’s honors included the USIA award for career service.

Richard Edward Undeland was a native of Omaha and a 1952 graduate of Harvard University. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University in 1954.

He was an Arlington resident and was a founder and past president of Foreign Affairs Retirees of Northern Virginia. He also served on the board of the Northern Virginia Hiking Club and participated in other hiking groups.

He was a volunteer with Arlington’s elections office and was a polling chief.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Joan Marvin Undeland of Arlington; four children, David Undeland of Suffolk, Va., John Undeland of Arlington, Anne Undeland of Richmond, Mass., and Charles Undeland of Colombo, Sri Lanka; a brother; and six grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein

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