My father had already offered me a third of the implement
business if I would manage it, and I had accepted. SPAN changed all
that. I became interested in international affairs, and went to study at
the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service when I finished at
Hamline, earning a second bachelor's degree.
The Korean War was on when I graduated and I volunteered for the
draft, knowing I would be called sooner or later. Assigned to Camp
Gordon, Georgia, I was fairly miserable and determined to get out of
there. After nearly being court-martialed for writing to my senator,
Hubert Humphrey, I was transferred to Tokyo with a psychological warfare
unit. I traveled through Asia on leave, flying space-available on
military aircraft, culminating in ten days in India with less than $50
in my pocket. My interest in international work deepened.
After finishing my draftee stint, I returned home and fattened
cattle for a few months on a farm my father had acquired. We hit the
market luckily with our first herd, and I traveled East in a new car
bought with the proceeds to see friends from schools and the army. At
Georgetown, I called on the placement director, and regaled her with
tales of being down and out in Asia.
When I returned home to feed more cattle, there was a wire from
the placement director asking if I was interested in being advance man
for several teams of scientists planning to observe an annular solar
eclipse in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Ceylon, Cambodia, and
Taiwan. Was I? It was the
greatest job in the world at that moment, or so I remain convinced. I
spent three months traveling around the world alone, checking out
conditions at often rather remote sites in those exotic countries. The
Duke of Harrar lent me a private railway car, equipped with interpreter,
armed guard, and servant, for my visit to Dire Dawa in Ethiopia. Lots of
experiences could be related, all positive. I went back with a team of
scientists to observe the eclipse at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
of the photos on this site I took on that trip; the others are by Pen,
mostly from our time in Lebanon.)
After writing final reports, however, it was over. No more
eclipses were anticipated for several years. I shopped for jobs, and
wound up in the junior executive program of the CIA. The next six years
don't need to be examined. I learned how to write a good report, how to
weigh information skeptically, and a few other things. I can steam open
an envelope if I have to. Mostly, they were not years very well spent
except for one thing: I met and married my wife, Penelope, during that
time, and we produced three children.
I was seeking an exit from the Agency, when an old army buddy
turned up as an assistant director of the US Commission on Civil Rights.
He offered me a job working with state advisory committees and I leaped
at it. It was a clear break from the intelligence field, and it gave me
a chance to travel widely in the US, working with dedicated people
seeking to change their communities through legal means. It was a good
job, and I enjoyed it, but I remained keenly interested in international
My break came when someone I knew recommended me to Frank Sutton
at the Ford Foundation. Frank was a sociologist much interested in
Africa. He had joined the Foundation to work on domestic programs but
found himself drawn to new opportunities to work on African problems
with Champ Ward. I went to New York for an interview with these men and
stayed six hours. It was heady stuff, an intellectual environment to
dream of. They were interested in me, and sent me to Personnel to work
out the details.
The next day Champ Ward called and said the Foundation's
president, Henry Heald, would not approve of my appointment because my
association with the Agency was only six months past. I was devastated.
More months passed and then I got a call from Frank Sutton inviting me
to go to East Africa as his assistant to open an office. I couldn't
figure out how my background could be too hot for a New York assignment,
but okay for an overseas one, but I didn't argue. After four days in New
York, we all flew to Nairobi. It was exciting, finding office space,
hiring staff, thinking out programs.
After six weeks, Frank returned to take up a reverse sabbatical
at MIT, leaving me in charge, but with little knowledge of the
organization. The biggest challenge came when a donor's meeting was held
at Lake Como to secure funding for the University of East Africa.
Frank's wife was sick, so he asked me to attend and said he would send a
detailed memo with his thoughts on the Foundation's interests. The
letter failed to arrive. I was on the spot. Sir Andrew Cohen was in the
chair, a formidable fellow. Each day he would call on me for a statement
of what the Foundation was prepared to support, and each day I had to
waffle. Frank finally flew over and it turned out only one word,
agriculture, had to be deleted from my statements, but those were
We lived in Nairobi for four glorious years. Working for Frank
was a mind-broadening experience. I could write logically before that
time, but he made me more aware of style. He's a classy, intriguing
writer. Starting a new program from scratch was a challenge. The
Foundation at that time was the sixth largest donor in the international
development business. Another of the world's greatest jobs.
After Nairobi, the Foundation sent me to the Littauer School at
Harvard, now the JFK School of Government, for an MPA. Jim Watson, the
DNA nobelist who had visited East Africa for the Foundation, offered us
his 150-year-old house, not far from the Square, at a decent price. It
was my first serious academic learning experience and I loved it.
After Harvard, I spent two years in professional personnel work
at the Foundation in New York, then a year studying the Middle East in
preparation for my next assignment, five years in Beirut as Middle East
Representative. By then Dave Bell and Mac Bundy had bureaucratized the
Foundation somewhat, so crafting a program was not quite as
free-wheeling and autonomous an exercise as in East Africa, and we were
dealing with declining budgets rather than expanding ones.
But it was still a superb job, at least until Beirut fell apart.
Our last year there, 1975-6, Pen and I farmed out the children to
relatives and friends in the US and traveled together in the region so
she would not be left alone in Beirut. The rest of the staff had been
relocated to Cairo or Amman, but I needed to settle with local staff and
put closure to a number of grants before closing the office. Since then
the Middle East program has been run from Cairo, something I resisted
because it makes the program too Egypt-centered.
Back in New York I spent some time evaluating the Foundation's
work in economic planning and management in East Africa, and then went
on loan to the Brookings Institution to work with Lester Gordon of
Harvard on a study of foreign aid for the new Carter administration. My
chapter of the report proposed that science and technology be taken out
of AID and made into a separate institute for cooperation with the third
world. President Carter liked this idea, and announced his intention to
create such an organization. I left the Foundation and joined a small
team of people engaged in planning the Congressional presentation,
working from the Office of the Science Adviser, Frank Press.
After two years, Congress authorized an Institute for Scientific
and Technical Cooperation, but the appropriations committee failed to
fund it. Eventually, its new authorities were rolled into AID, thus
defeating its main purpose. On fourth down and one, Carter elected to
In the midst of the ISTC planning exercise, I had been asked by
the head of the Reconstruction Council in Lebanon to consult with him on
rebuilding that shattered country. I went to Beirut on one-month visits
three or four times a year for about five years, drafting plans,
negotiating with the World Bank, etc. During that time, the situation
gradually worsened, culminating in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in
1982. After that, USAID provided a five-person consulting team to the
council, and I was no longer needed, to my relief.
For several years, 1980-85, I worked as a private consultant. For
a year I was senior international fellow of the Kettering Foundation,
during which time I wrote an account of the ISTC experience. Then I was
asked by the National Academy of Sciences to write an appendix to their
study on the US capacity for research on tropical diseases. The appendix
dealt with institutional mechanisms in the US for collaboration with
foreign research centers.
By this time, my two oldest children were off at college, and we
moved to our summer house in Vermont so my son could attend a smaller
high school than those available in the Washington area. I maintained an
apartment in Washington, but returned home for four days every two
weeks. Our Vermont house remains base camp for the family.
In 1985, HIID asked me to go to Indonesia to help set up an
overseas training office in the planning ministry, BAPPENAS. Pen had by
then started a dress making business in Vermont, so she couldn't spend
full time there, but we had a good year and she found a local batik
factory to produce fabrics for her expanding enterprise. When we
returned home, I remained with Harvard as manager of an international
diarrheal disease research project, and she employed five or six full
time people in her business. We traveled together back and forth to
Cambridge where we still maintain an apartment.
We brought back some Indonesian antiques and furniture with us
which people found attractive, so I decided to open an antique store
featuring Asian goods. Both dress business and antique store were in an
old barn in Pawlet, VT. In 1990, I retired from Harvard and devoted more
time to the businesses. I continued to do consulting part time, however,
mostly for HIID and the UNDP.
The former secretary-general of BAPPENAS was promoted to Minister
in the President's office, and he invited me to help him devise a
program for upgrading the staff. It was a bit sensitive, but we worked
together periodically for about three years before his ready access to
funding dried up as a result of a change in ministers of finance. Pen
would travel with me to Jakarta several times a year, designing fabrics
and selecting antiques while I wrote papers. It was a highly satisfying
pattern of existence, dividing our time between Jakarta, Cambridge, and
This idyllic life style was jolted in February 1992, when Pen
developed viral encephalitis. She was in intensive care for a week and
spent a month in the hospital altogether. The disease left her somewhat
damaged, and she has not been able to resume control of her business. We
carried it on for a while, but closed it, with substantial losses, in
November 1994. In April of 1995, she suffered another severe bout of
seizures, which resulted in a complete loss of short-term memory. She
remains cognitively intact, but can't drive or live alone.
I continued to consult with HIID and the UNDP periodically. I
visited eastern Africa to write a report for HIID, and went to Iraq,
Sharjah, Oman, Uzbekistan (see Tashkent
Journal), Ukraine (see Kiev Journal),
and Egypt for the UNDP. Pen remained
in Vermont in the care of a retired nurse who also tended the antique
store on weekends.
On the brighter side, in every sense, are our children. The
oldest, Sahlu, is a psychiatrist, who trained in psychiatry
at the University of Rochester. She and her husband Mark now live with
us and care for Pen when I travel. Shelby, the second, is a physicist,
who left teaching at Colby College to take a job with Xerox when she
married Lewis Rothberg, a physicist/chemist at the University of
Rochester. Andrew is married to Helen and has three daughters.
He has a Wharton MBA and works for a brokerage firm in New York.
Mary Jo, a surprise package who was born to an old girl friend when I
was in the army in Japan and had been adopted, turned up in the
mid-1980s and joined the family as if she had always been part of it.
She saw what the others were doing, and promptly went to the Kennedy
School at Harvard for an MPA and on to Brandeis University for a PhD.
She is now a health care researcher in Boston, living with her daughter
All of the children were marvelous during Pen's illnesses and
since then. Those not here take time from their busy lives to be with us
a lot, and they each call a couple of times a week to see how things are
going. They have been essential elements in my own stability during this
In 1955, when I was working on the solar eclipse project, I
chanced to have my palm read twice, once in New York and once in Saigon.
Both readers told me the same memorable thing: that I would live until I
was 64 years old. That was comforting for a while. I learned to fly in
East Africa, for example, without undue fear. But now I'm 70, and feel
as if Iím living on borrowed time.
In retirement, I enrolled as a graduate student in the Human and
Organizational Development program at the Fielding Institute in Santa
Barbara. It was fun and instructive, but I finally decided I needed to
proceed in my own directions. I applied to the MacArthur Foundation for
a grant to study the Singapore development experience.
I wanted to identify the policies the government pursued that
fostered Singaporeís remarkable human development, as well as
economic, environmental, and fertility successes, since independence.
The Foundation claimed it wanted innovative proposals, and my rejection
in the first round remains a very sore point.
Since them, with the help of Sahlu and Mark, I have been working
on my web site. I hope it will be a record for my children and
grandchildren, but I am also hopeful that interaction with readers can
be a way to advance knowledge of the complicated elements of the