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Obituaries

John Holdridge; Ambassador in Asia

July 14, 2001|From The Washington Post

John H. Holdridge, an Asia specialist in the Foreign Service who served as an ambassador to two countries and as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, has died. He was 76.

Holdridge died of pulmonary fibrosis Thursday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in Bethesda, Md.

He served almost four decades in the Foreign Service before retiring in 1986 after three years as ambassador to Indonesia. He had been ambassador to Singapore from 1975 to 1978 and an assistant secretary of state from 1981 to 1983.

Holdridge, a member of the National Security Council from 1969 to 1973, accompanied then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to Beijing on a secret trip in 1971 that laid the groundwork for President Nixon to make his visit the next year. He also helped draft the Shanghai Communique of 1972, in which the United States recognized Taiwan as a part of "one China" instead of a separate nation.

Holdridge was deputy director at the then-new U.S. mission in Beijing from 1973 to 1975. He went on temporary assignment to the CIA, as national intelligence officer for East Asia, from 1979 to 1981.

John Herbert Holdridge, a New York native and son of an Army general, was a 1945 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He spent some of his teenage years in Asia, and the experience left him eager to learn more when he left the Army in 1948 to join the Foreign Service. He became a political officer in Hong Kong, chief of the political section in Singapore and, in the mid-1960s, director of the State Department's research and analysis office for East Asia.

In 1995, he co-wrote "War and Peace With China" with two other Foreign Service officials. He also was the author of "Crossing the Divide: An Insider's Account of the Normalization of U.S.-China Relations," published in 1997.

Survivors include his wife, Martha Jane McKelvey Holdridge of Bethesda; two sons; a daughter; and six grandchildren.

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