Ambassador Josiah H. Beeman V, 70

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Josiah Horton Beeman V, 70, a former staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives' Democratic caucus who later served the Clinton administration as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, died of renal failure June 14 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He lived in Falls Church.

Mr. Beeman was ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa from 1994 to 1999. During that time, Bill Clinton made the first visit by a U.S. president to New Zealand in 32 years.

Mr. Beeman occasionally clashed with New Zealand officials on matters of trade, genetically modified food and New Zealand's nuclear-free policy, but he presided over generally amicable relations between the countries. He told the New Zealand media that he was taking a large supply of the country's wine back to the United States at the end of his tenure.

Just before the birth of Mr. Beeman's daughter in New Zealand in 1999, he half-jokingly told the Christchurch Press, "I want to make sure that Olivia Louise is able to run for president of the United States, and because the law says she has to be native born, we are thinking of taking a box of soil from the embassy and putting her feet in it as she comes through, so that we can claim she was born on American soil."

Mr. Beeman was born in San Francisco and graduated from Reed College in Portland, Ore. He received a master's degree in government from San Francisco State University in 1959.

He worked for the Social Security Administration early in his career before becoming director of education for the Northern California Council of Churches from 1961 to 1963. His first involvement in the political sphere came in 1964, when he was named administrative assistant to Rep. Phillip Burton (D-Calif.). He worked with Burton for the rest of the 1960s, except in 1967, when Mr. Beeman was appointed to serve out an unexpired term on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Beeman came to Washington in 1968 to administer Burton's office. A year later, he left Capitol Hill to become secretary for international affairs for the United Presbyterian Church. He was director of the Washington office of the church from 1970 to 1975, representing it at international meetings with other denominations. (In 1983, the United Presbyterian Church merged with the Presbyterian Church in the United States to form the Presbyterian Church (USA).)

In 1975, Mr. Beeman reentered politics as staff director of the Democratic caucus of the House. Later that year, he became director of the Washington office of the state of California, representing its interests before congressional committees and federal agencies until 1980.

Mr. Beeman was director of political and legislative affairs for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees from 1981 to 1983, when he formed a consulting firm, Beeman and Associates. He spent 11 years as president of the firm, primarily representing the interests of California state agencies and health organizations.

After his five-year term in New Zealand, Mr. Beeman returned to the United States and was chief of staff for the U.S. International Broadcasting Agency, which includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia. He retired from that position in 2001.

From June 2004 until shortly before his death, Mr. Beeman was chairman of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, a county agency that handles social services.

He had been a Presbyterian lay minister since 1956 and was a member of Falls Church Presbyterian Church.

Before he was named ambassador, Mr. Beeman lived on Capitol Hill and was an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member. He had also been a member of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.

In 1993, Mr. Beeman and his first wife, Linda Lee Beeman, were featured in a Washington Post article about people who collect canes. Their "Capitol Hill row house behind the Supreme Court has canes stacked in every corner," the article said. Their oldest was a Spanish sword stick from 1550. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Survivors include Mr. Beeman's wife of 10 years, Susan L. Beeman, and their two children, Olivia Louise Beeman and Josiah Horton Beeman VI, all of Falls Church; and a sister.

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