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Obituary: Archie M. Bolster MA’72

May. 11, 2021
Category: Obituary

Archie M. Bolster, 87, a retired Foreign Service officer, passed away on February 21, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1933 to Horace and Ella Bolster, Mr. Bolster spent his early years in Bozeman, Montana. In 1945, his father was recruited to serve as the first agricultural attache in Tehran, Iran. The family was later posted to The Hague, where Mr. Bolster attended a local lyceum. He had to quickly learn Dutch as all his courses were in the language. These experiences piqued his interest in international work.

After one final year of high school in Winchester, Massachusetts, Mr. Bolster entered the University of Virginia, joining its Navy ROTC program. His busy college career included becoming fluent in French, and he graduated in 1955 with a B.A. in international relations and a Phi Beta Kappa membership. He then entered active duty in the Navy, serving for three years on the destroyer USS John R. Pierce. Upon his discharge as a LTJG in 1958, he was accepted into Foreign Service training. A former shipmate introduced him to Ann Matthews of Arlington, Va. They married in 1959 and soon left for Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

By 1961, Mr. Bolster had completed Farsi language training at the Foreign Service Institute and was posted to Tabriz, Iran as Vice Consul. He used his language skills to do most of the detailed reporting on the Shah’s land reforms, a subject he also covered during his next assignment to Tehran, along with analyzing internal politics. Subsequent postings to Washington involved reporting on political dynamics in Iran, economic training at FSI, and analysis of petroleum markets for the Office of Fuels and Energy. In 1972, he earned a MA in public policy and administration from the University of Wisconsin.

Mr. Bolster served as executive assistant to Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan in New Delhi, India from 1972 to 1974, followed by a two-year posting to Tehran. One of his most satisfying accomplishments was working with the UNHCR to set up an asylum program that allowed hundreds of Iraqi Kurdish refugees to relocate to the U.S. and other countries. He worked on energy affairs in Washington and then served as Consul General in Antwerp, Belgium from 1978 to 1981. He held positions in Security Assistance and Sales and Aviation Negotiations before retiring from the State Department in 1984.

His association with State continued, however, with a consulting assignment in Refugee Programs, service on an interagency group investigating the Iran/Contra affair, and part-time work in the Freedom of Information Section for many years. He also frequently traveled internationally, including living in The Hague again while working as a translator for the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal. A devoted family man, his intelligence, gentle demeanor, warm smile, and generosity attracted many lifelong friends.

Mr. Bolster is survived by his wife, Ann; sons, Christopher and Matthew; daughter, Amy; and eight grandchildren.

More Alumni Notes

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Jeffrey Vande Leest ’75 retired June 30, 2021.

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