Christian M. Ravndal, 85, a former director general of the Foreign Service and a retired ambassador, died Oct. 18 at his summer home in Vienna, Austria. He had suffered a series of strokes.
Mr. Ravndal, who retired in 1961 after 40 years with the State Department, was director general of the Foreign Service from 1947 to 1949, and later served as ambassador to Uruguay, Ecuador and Czechslovakia. He was minister to Hungary from 1951 to 1956.
He joined the Foreign Service as a code clerk at the U.S. mission in Vienna in 1921 and rose to the personal rank of career minister in 1947. When he became director general in 1947, it was his task to reorganize what had been an elite corps into a body that was representative of a cross section of America's population.
Mr. Ravndal was fluent in German, Spanish and Swedish and had a working knowledge of French, Turkish and Hungarian. His style of diplomacy included informal contacts with ordinary people in the countries where he was posted in addition to dealing with government officials.
Mr. Ravndal was born in Beirut where his father was the American consul, attended Robert College in what was then Constantinople, and graduated from Luther College in Iowa. He served in the Army during World War I.
During his career, Mr. Ravndal served in Frankfurt, Cologne, Toronto, Vancouver, Buenos Aires and Stockholm, in addition to several assignments in Washington. He lived here until moving to Vero Beach, Fla., and Vienna in 1965.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Alberta, and a daughter, Inga, both of Vienna; a son, Frank, also a Foreign Service officer, of Washington; a brother, Eric, of Orlando, Fla.; a sister, Sarah R. Smith of Kerrville, Tex., and three grandchildren.