Olcott Deming, 98, Ambassador to Newly Independent Uganda, Dies
Olcott Hawthorne Deming, a career Foreign Service officer and the first American ambassador to Uganda after it gained independence from Britain in 1962, died on March 20 near his home in Washington. He was 98.
The death was confirmed by his son Rust Deming.
Mr. Deming was appointed ambassador to Uganda by President John F. Kennedy in January 1963; at the time, he was the American consul general in Kampala, the capital.
“He went there with the idea that Africa had the opportunity to develop functioning democracies,” said Rust Deming, who was ambassador to Tunisia from 2000 to 2003. “But during his three-plus years there, my father became quite discouraged because of the tribalism that emerged within Uganda and the breakdown of economic cooperation between Uganda, Kenya and what was then Tanganyika,” now Tanzania.
Born in Westchester County, N.Y., on Feb. 28, 1909, Mr. Deming was one of seven children of William Champion Deming, a physician, and the former Imogen Hawthorne. (He was a great-grandson of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne.) The family later moved to Redding, Conn.
Besides his son Rust, of Bethesda, Md., Mr. Deming is survived by another son, John, of Washington; a daughter, Rosamond Deming of Madrid; a sister, Joan Ensor of Redding; three granddaughters; and five great-grandchildren. His wife of 38 years, the former Louise Macpherson, died in 1976.
Mr. Deming graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., in 1935. For several years, he taught at private schools in Greenwich, Conn. But in 1942 he was hired to work in the Office of Inter-American Affairs at the State Department. He entered the Foreign Service in 1948 and from 1951 to 1959 was a public affairs officer in Thailand and then Japan. In 1959, he was named director of the Office of East and South African Affairs.
After retiring in 1969, Mr. Deming became an official of the American Foreign Service Association, and a strong opponent of the presidential practice of appointing ambassadors who were not career diplomats.