Joseph Limprecht, a foreign service officer who had served as ambassador to Albania since 1999, has died of a heart attack while touring northern Albania. He was 55.
The Associated Press quoted Albanian officials as saying that three medical teams were rushed to the area, but the ambassador died Sunday before he could be taken to a hospital. The U.S. Embassy in Tirana confirmed Limprecht's death.
Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said his country had lost a "great friend."
"His last tour to several towns in the north of the country is significant evidence of his serious and professional commitment," Meidani said in a statement.
Limprecht, a fifth-generation Nebraskan, was a native of Omaha. The graduate of the University of Chicago received a master's degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in history from UC Berkeley.
He began his State Department career in 1975, and was stationed in Washington and Bonn before serving as public safety advisor at the U.S. mission in Berlin from 1985 to 1988. He then served until 1991 in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he directed anti-narcotics operations.
The diplomat spent tours in Washington, D.C., as deputy director of the Office of Israel and Arab-Israeli Affairs and as a division chief in the State Department's personnel bureau.
From 1996 until becoming ambassador in 1999, he was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
In Albania, Limprecht worked with a country that had become plagued by government corruption and organized crime. The Omaha World-Herald reported that when he traveled from the embassy compound, it was in a 6-ton armored vehicle, with three guards armed with automatic weapons.
Limprecht had been due to end his three-year tour in Albania, where he had helped mediate disputes by various political factions and worked to end strife.
Former Albanian President Sali Berisha said, "The United States lost a talented diplomat and Albania a distinguished friend who worked with great efficiency to foster the relations between the two countries and peoples."
Limprecht, who spoke German and Uzbek, had contributed articles to such publications as the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Service Journal.
He received two State Department Superior Honor awards and a State Department Meritorious Honor Award.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy, and two daughters.