WASHINGTON — Donald R. Fortier, President Reagan's deputy national security adviser, has died of liver cancer, White House and hospital officials said Sunday.
The 39-year-old Fortier, who had been ill since May, died Saturday night at Georgetown Hospital, the officials said.
Reagan, in a statement released by White House officials in Santa Barbara, where the President is vacationing, hailed Fortier as a man "who worked tirelessly and brilliantly in developing our national security policy."
"His creativity in the search for lasting peace throughout the world contributed significantly to our progress toward that goal. Nancy and I extend our heartfelt condolences to Don's wife, Alison, and his son, Graham. May God Bless them," Reagan said.
Highly respected as well-read and learned, Fortier was known inside the White House as an astute policy analyst with expertise on several regions of the world.
He was appointed deputy assistant to the President for national security affairs in 1983 under former national security adviser Robert McFarlane. He continued to serve in that position under the present national security adviser, Vice Adm. John Poindexter.
Previously, Fortier was the National Security Council director of Western European and NATO affairs and special assistant to the President on political-military affairs.
He joined the Administration in 1981 as deputy director for policy planning at the State Department, and in 1982, was awarded the department's superior honor award for his contributions to U.S. foreign policy.
Before joining the executive branch, Fortier served as a senior adviser to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a national security consultant to the Rand Corp.
He received an undergraduate degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master's degree in political science from the University of Chicago, where he held a Ford Foundation scholarship and did graduate work from 1971 to 1975.
Alton Keel, who served as executive director of the presidential commission that investigated the space shuttle Challenger disaster, has been named to replace Fortier on a temporary basis.