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Glenn Smith, veteran diplomat, dies at 93

Glenn Smith saw the world from perspectives available to few others and as a U.S. diplomat he worked for a quarter century to make it a safer place.

Smith, who regarded as one of his premier moments his role in the successful effort to avert a Greek-Turkish war over Cyprus in 1967, died Saturday at his home in Santa Rosa. He was 93.

“He really had a great life,” said son Bruce Smith of Culver City of his dad, a former Foreign Service officer, Marine and journalist. Though his father’s experiences with war and other international crises dimmed his view of humanity, the younger Smith said, “he clearly saw the good side of human beings, too.”

Glenn Smith counted himself fortunate to work as special assistant to late legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow at the U.S. Information Agency and to live and travel around the globe with his wife and fellow Marine Corps veteran, Gloria Diana Lehan Smith.

The couple adored Calcutta, when India became Glenn Smith’s first diplomatic post in the early 1950s. Bruce Smith, one of their four children, said they savored Cyprus during his father’s assignment there, less so Turkey and Ethiopia.

“They loved being in the Third World countries, they had that adventurous spirit,” Bruce Smith said.

The high-level work of both Glenn Smith and his late wife, an actress and international aid volunteer, brought into their lives many prominent individuals. The Smiths met or hosted at their various overseas homes Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, John Glenn, Isaac Stern, Helen Keller, Sir Edmund Hillary, William O. Douglas and others.

Both Glenn and Gloria Smith were retired when they discovered Sonoma County during a visit with their daughter, Sonoma State graduate and Windsor resident Kerry Bargsten. They made their home in Santa Rosa in 1987. The retired diplomat remarked often that after traveling all his life, he’d found the greatest place in the world to live.

Glenn Lee Smith was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1921. He studied for a time at the University of Washington and in 1939 joined the American Field Service, accepting an assignment as an ambulance attendant attached to the British 8th Army in the Middle East and North Africa.

He was wounded in 1943 and returned home. He’d healed when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944.


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