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Richard Chris Lundberg

Richard Lundberg

Richard Chris Lundberg
October 12, 1945 – January 9, 2020

by Ann A. Lundberg

Richard Chris Lundberg passed away on January 9, 2020, at the age of 74 in Arlington, VA. This single sentence does not begin to convey by any means the impact that this fact has had on those who love and miss him.

Richard was raised in a complex and loving household – no traditional father figure but a Swedish family consisting of a single mom, a grandmother and Italian grandfather, an adult cousin and an aunt, most of them under one roof. This atmosphere of loving warmth and kindness helped to shape his understanding of the world and his place in it.

He went to college and graduated with honors and began a career as a school teacher. Not satisfied with his daily contributions to teach children in a school setting, he joined a volunteer tutoring project, where he was involved in tutoring small children in a church basement in Corona, Queens, NY, on weekends.

I got to see firsthand his expertise as a teacher and his gentle way with the kids who thrived under his tutorage. When the project ended, Richard moved on to the next chapter in his life. After nine years of teaching, his interest and passionate following of world politics and desire to make a difference, plus his fascination with different cultures, triggered his next move. His talent for and interest in languages, combined with his love of travel, drove him to change careers and join the Foreign Service and become a diplomat with the United States Information Agency and the U.S. Department of State in 1978.

Richard’s first posting was to Warsaw, Poland, as a JOT and then on to Poznan as the Branch Public Affairs Officer during the years 1979-1982. This memorable time encompassed traditional Communist rule, the rise of Solidarity, and the threat of Soviet invasion and the imposition of martial law.

His next assignment was to Helsinki, Finland, as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer from 1983 to 1987. He focused on American Studies, running the International Visitor Program, and working with the Fulbright Program. The years 1987 to 1991 were spent in Washington as an Academic Relations Specialist and then a Program Development Officer.

Richard’s next posting was on to Bucharest, Romania, from 1991 to 1993 as the Information Officer. He helped develop successful programs to transform the Romanian media into an independent, responsible, and credible media. From 1994 to 1997, he was assigned to Reykjavik, Iceland, as the Public Affairs Officer. Ricard strengthened support for NATO, NATO enlargement, and the Keflavik NATO base by organizing visits of skeptical Icelandic journalists and politicians to NATO headquarters in Brussels and military commands in the U.S. He traveled to Helsinki in 1997 to serve as the principal officer in charge of the White House press corps during the Clinton-Yeltsin Summit.

Richard served again as a Public Affairs Officer in Tallinn, Estonia, from 1998 to 2001. The highlights included but are not limited to the fact that he coordinated, during the consolidation of the USIA into the State Department, a seamless transformation of the Embassy’s USIS office, retaining jobs for all staff members, and integrating budgetary and personnel operations with State’s. Richard also strengthened the growth of an independent and responsible post-Communist-era Estonian media by recruiting a Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. editor to train 20 editors and journalists in the how’s and why’s of investigative journalism.

Richard’s last posting in Washington before retiring in 2005 included the following: Program Officer for the U.S. Speakers Program in Eastern Europe and Office Director of the U.S. Society and Values Office, Bureau of International Information Programs (about 3 weeks after 9/11). It was followed by a Congressional (Pearson) Fellowship with the Bureau of Human Resources and later as a Career Development Officer.

His talent for languages enabled him to be able to excel at each post and communicate easily in Polish, Finnish, Romanian, Icelandic, and Estonian with his contacts and staff. He was a gourmet cook and loved to create and experiment with unique spices and foods. His love of music covered jazz, pop, classical, contemporary, and country. This was exhibited by his huge collection of LP’s, tapes, and CD’s. His concern and love for animals led him to support charities benefiting them and to adopt and rescue two adult cats that were going to be sent to a kill shelter by the owner. His overseas postings to all those exotic locations enabled him to indulge in and enjoy one of his favorite hobbies — photography. He was a kind, generous, loving individual with a high level of integrity and honesty. His love of travel did not diminish with retirement and only slowed with the onset of health problems. He is survived by his wife Ann of almost 50 years. Yes, there were glitches, mistakes, and stumbles, but the account you have read is true.

That is why the universe is a sadder place today because he is not in it.

Ann Lundberg is Richard Lundberg’s widow. She accompanied him on his assignments overseas.

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