U.S. Ambassador Charles W. Adair Jr.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Charles Wallace Adair Jr., 91, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and Uruguay, died Jan. 22 of heart disease at Goodwin House retirement home in Falls Church.

A longtime Foreign Service officer, Mr. Adair was ambassador to Panama from 1965 to 1969. In 1966, Panamanian students demonstrating against the United States threw a milk carton filled with red paint, striking Mr. Adair in the back. Before his departure, he managed to rebuild relations with the Central American nation and to initiate talks that ultimately led to the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panamanian authority.

As ambassador to Uruguay from 1969 to 1972, Mr. Adair helped organize resistance to attacks from leftist factions.

He was born in Xenia, Ohio, where he was accomplished in both sports and music. He was a football player in high school and often took long camping and canoeing trips. He also took part in theater and was a talented pianist and organist, performing as a church organist in his teens.

Before his graduation from the University of Wisconsin, he was a college boxer and a singer with his brother's dance band.

Mr. Adair worked for Chase Bank in Panama in the 1930s before joining the State Department. He was posted to Mexico before World War II and spent much of the war stationed in India.

He later worked for the State Department's economic bureau, serving in Rio de Janeiro and Brussels. In 1961, he was appointed deputy secretary general of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation in Paris, where he coordinated economic and international aid programs. He served in Buenos Aires before being appointed ambassador to Panama.

After retiring from the State Department in 1972, Mr. Adair lived in Stuart, Fla., until 1996, when he moved to Northern Virginia.

His wife of 49 years, Caroline Marshall Adair, died in 1996.

Survivors include three children, Marshall Adair of Tampa, Carol Finn of Silver Spring and Sarah Shaps of London, and six grandchildren.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company