Donald Norland; Career Diplomat And Specialist in African Affairs

Friday, January 5, 2007

Donald R. Norland, 82, a career Foreign Service officer who served as ambassador to four African countries, died Dec. 30 at Sibley Memorial Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Washington.

From 1976 to 1979, Mr. Norland served simultaneously as the ambassador to the three southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Mr. Norland was accredited to all three nations but was based in Botswana.

In 1979, he was appointed ambassador to Chad, which for generations had endured political turmoil because of civil wars and military coups.

In the summer of 1980, a Libyan-backed coup in Chad led French military forces to evacuate Mr. Norland and other diplomats to Cameroon.

Mr. Norland retired from the Foreign Service in 1981 but remained active in African affairs as a private consultant.

He lent his expertise on energy and telecommunications projects in Sudan, Nigeria and Chad. He also worked with the Harvard Institute for International Development and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help devise private-sector-led economic development.

From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Norland headed the training program on African area studies at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute.

He served on the advisory board of a fellowship program at Georgetown University Law Center to bring African lawyers to study in the United States.

A son of an educator and state legislator, Mr. Norland was born in Laurens, Iowa, and grew up on a family farm.

After he spent a couple of years at what is now the University of Northern Iowa, he joined the Navy during World War II and served on patrol torpedo boats and minesweepers in the Pacific.

After the war, he graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he also received a master's degree in political science in 1950.

He joined the Foreign Service two years later and began his career as a cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Rabat, Morocco.

Later, while serving as consul general in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, he was also accredited as a diplomat to the republics of Niger, Dahomey (now Benin) and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso).

In the early 1970s, Mr. Norland was deputy chief of mission and charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea.

In other assignments, Mr. Norland served in the early 1960s as a political officer at NATO headquarters, then in Paris. He was a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in the Hague from 1964 to 1969.

A wrestler and football player at the University of Minnesota, Mr. Norland later played tennis and ran.

He was a member of Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired (DACOR).

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Patricia Bamman Norland of Washington; two sons, Richard Norland, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and David Norland of Falls Church; a daughter, Patricia Norland of Arlington; two brothers; a sister; and five grandchildren.

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