|Horace Gates Torbert Jr.
served in diplomatic posts
across Europe and in Somalia
from the 1940s to the 1970s.
By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Horace Gates Torbert
Horace Gates Torbert Jr., who served as ambassador
to Somalia and Bulgaria and was acting assistant
secretary of state for congressional relations during
the Vietnam War, died of cancer March 24 at the
Collington Episcopal Life Care Community in
Mitchellville. He was 96.
Ambassador Torbert joined the Foreign Service in
1947 and served as economic officer in Madrid until
1950. He was political officer in Vienna and Salzburg,
Austria, from 1950 to 1955. During that time, he was a
close associate of the U.S. ambassador to Austria,
Lewellyn E. Thompson Jr., in negotiating the Austrian
State Treaty of 1955, which reestablished Austria as a sovereign state.
Ambassador Torbert, who was known as Tully, was born in Washington and graduated at
16 from Western High School (1928). He also graduated from Phillips Academy in
Andover, Mass. He received a degree from Yale University in 1932 and an MBA from
Harvard Business School in 1934.
Ambassador Torbert worked as a production manager for Hollingsworth & Whitney
Paper in Boston and Mobile, Ala., during the 1930s and served stateside in the Army
Ordnance Department during World War II. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and
was awarded the Legion of Merit.
After becoming a Foreign Service officer and serving in Spain and Austria, he spent a
year at the National War College and then became director of Western European affairs
at the State Department. Beginning in1958, he served two years as the political
counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Rome under Ambassador David Zellerbach, then two
years as chargÂ¿ d'affaires of the U.S. Legation in Budapest. He was ambassador to
Somalia from 1963 to 1965. In 1965, Ambassador Torbert was named deputy assistant
secretary of state for congressional relations and became acting assistant secretary
when Douglas MacArthur II left Washington to become U.S. ambassador to NATO.
From 1969 to 1973, Ambassador Torbert served as ambassador to Bulgaria, the post
from which he retired.
After his retirement, Ambassador Torbert engaged in many volunteer activities, including
serving as president of Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired. The group's
headquarters was moved and renovated during his stewardship, and its library was
named in his honor.
His wife of 57 years, Anne Holloway Torbert, died in 1999.
Survivors include his wife, Emily Orr Torbert of Mitchellville, whom he married in 2001; two
sons from his first marriage, William R. Torbert of Newton, Mass., and James R. Torbert
of Whitefield, Maine; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.