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Press Releases 2008

Memorial service for Ambassador Spain

Ambassador James W. Spain (Photograph by: Dominic Sansoni)

Ambassador James W. Spain (Photograph by: Dominic Sansoni)

The Embassy of the United States in Colombo regrets to announce the death of Ambassador James W. Spain on January 2, 2008, in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He was 81. 

Ambassador Spain served as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from 1985 to 1989.  His funeral was held on January 5 in Washington, D.C., where he was interred in Rock Creek Cemetery.

The Embassy wishes to announce that, in conjunction with the Sri Lanka America Society, a memorial service will be held for Ambassador Spain at St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk, 73 Galle Road, Colombo 3 on Friday, January 11, 2008 at 5:00 p.m.  The public is invited to attend.

A career diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Spain headed the U.S. Mission in Sri Lanka from November 1985 to June 1988.  He retired with the rank of Career Minister and remained in Sri Lanka until returning to the United States in 2006.  Prior to his assignment to Sri Lanka, he also served as Ambassador to Turkey and to Tanzania, and was the U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations in 1979.  His first posting was to Karachi, Pakistan in 1951 as a vice-consul.

Ambassador Spain lived a distinguished life of service to his country and dedication to his friends and family.  He inspired those around him to seek the best for themselves and their country, meeting adversity with strength, rudeness with grace, and challenges with enthusiasm.  He played pivotal roles in building the United States’ alliance with Turkey, bringing about a peaceful transition to majority rule in Zimbabwe, and strengthening the United States’ relations with Sri Lanka and other countries in the region.

The author of numerous books, including In Those Days, American Diplomacy in Turkey, The Way of the Pathans, and Pathans of the Latter Day, Ambassador Spain also contributed articles on foreign affairs to a variety of publications.  He received a masters degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Colombia University.

Ambassador Spain is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.