Val McComie; Barbados's Ambassador to the U.S.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Val McComie, 87, a Barbados diplomat who served as the Caribbean island nation's ambassador to the United States and as the No. 2 executive at the Organization of American States, died May 4 at the Washington Home hospice. He had complications from a stroke in 2002.

Barbados, a major sugar producer and tourist destination, became independent of England in 1966. Mr. McComie, a former schoolteacher, began his diplomatic career the next year.

Early on, he held a concurrent assignment in Washington as ambassador to the United States and the OAS, a social and economic development organization. During this period, he negotiated Barbados's entry into the OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank.

After serving as ambassador to Brazil and Venezuela, Mr. McComie was OAS assistant secretary-general, the No. 2 position, from 1980 to 1990, when he retired.

Over the years, he encouraged engagement in human rights and environmental concerns. He told The Washington Post in 1980: "The Caribbean is being seen in Cold War ideological terms, and this may detract from the real problems of the Caribbean, which are basic needs -- jobs, social services, housing."

Valerie Theodore McComie was born in Trinidad and raised in Barbados. He was a modern languages graduate of the University of London and did postgraduate work in French civilization at the University of Bordeaux and in political science at the University of California at Los Angeles.

He taught modern languages at secondary schools in Barbados, Arizona and Ghana before joining the diplomatic service.

He was a member of the Catholic Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, his city of residence.

His first wife, Margery Clarke McComie, died in 1956.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Elia Garcia McComie of Washington; a daughter from his first marriage, Gail McComie of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and two sisters.

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