Smith Hemp­stone, for­mer Times ed­i­tor, Kenya am­bas­sador dies at 77

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen­nifer Harper

Smith Hemp­stone, for­mer ed­i­tor inchiefofTheWash­ing­tonTime­sand one-timeam­bas­sador­toKenya,died Nov. 19 from di­a­betes. He was 77.

A Wash­ing­ton, D.C. na­tive and ca­reer jour­nal­ist, Mr. Hemp­stone was, by his own de­scrip­tion, a “rogue” diplo­matwhose­call­ing­tothewrit­ing life­andAfricait­sel­fre­ceiveda­hearty nudge from Ernest Hem­ing­way. As a young re­porter on his hon­ey­moon in 1954, Mr. Hemp­stone dropped by thele­gendary­writer’sho­tel­sui­te­un­in­vited and re­ceived piv­otal ad­vice.

“Been­toAfrica?”Hem­ing­way­de­manded. “You ought to go. Africa’s man’s coun­try: fish, hunt, write. The best.”

By then, Mr. Hemp­stone was al­ready knee-deep in hard news, hav­ing logged time as a re­write man for theAssociatedPress,are­porter­atthe Louisville Times and a Na­tional Geo­graph­ic­cor­re­spon­dent.Forthenext decade,the­formerU.S.Marinewrote fortheWash­ing­tonS­tar,then­be­came a for­eign correspondent for the ChicagoDai­lyNews,cov­er­ingAfrica, Asia, Europe and Latin Amer­ica.

Mr. Hemp­stone re­turned to the Starinthemid-1960s,this­timeasan ed­i­tor. Upon the pa­per’s demise, he be­came ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The Wash­ing­ton Times in 1982, and ed­i­tor­inchieft­woyears­later.Mr.Hemp­stonewasal­soasyn­di­cat­ed­colum­nist from 1979 to 89 and wrote a num­ber of books, ar­ti­cles and two nov­els as the years passed.

“I re­mem­ber him as a fine jour- nal­ist and re­porter, a good writer, good colum­nist and ed­i­tor. Smith wen­ton­to­be­comethe­mostvig­or­ous diplo­mat that the State De­part­ment ev­er­hadorever­wanted—and­more. He was a color­ful char­ac­ter, and I shall miss him,” said Brit Hume of Fox News.

“AsWash­ing­toned­i­to­rofReader’s Digest, I got to know him very well. He was one of the great jour­nal­ists I have worked with reg­u­larly over 40 years,pro­vid­ing­some­ofthe­mostin­sight­ful­for­eign­cor­re­spon­dencethat we pub­lished. He was a tremen­dous re­porter with great an­a­lytic pow­ers. But he was also great fun to work with,” re­called William Schulz.

The first Pres­i­dent Bush ap­point­edMr.Hemp­stoneam­bas­sador to Kenya in 1989, just days af­ter the fall of the Ber­lin Wall. Over four tu­mul­tuous years, the jour­nal­ist­turned-diplo­mat ad­mon­ished Pres­i­den­tDanielara­pMoi,on­cead­vis­ing the East African na­tion that Amer­i­caneco­nom­i­caid­went­tothose­who “nour­ish demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, de­fend hu­man rights and prac­tice mul­ti­party pol­i­tics.”

He prac­ticed “mus­cu­lar diplo­macy,” ac­cord­ing to one ac­count by Lau­rence Ea­gle­berger, deputy sec­re­tary of state at the time. Mr. Moi him­self­de­nouncedMr.Hemp­stone as a “bull­dozer,” and more than one death threat sur­faced. Un­daunted, Mr. Hemp­stone penned “Rogue Am­bas­sador: An African Mem­oir,” a per­sonal ac­count pub­lished in 1997.

Mr. Hemp­stone grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of the South in 1950. He won for­eign correspondent awards­fromSig­maDeltaChi­andthe Over­seas Press Club, and was a fel­low of the In­sti­tute of Cur­rent World Af­fairs. Mr. Hemp­stone was a Bethesda,Md.res­i­den­tatthetimeof his death.

Heis­sur­vived­byKathaleenFish­back­Hemp­stone,hiswife­of52years; a daugh­ter, Kather­ine Hemp­stone of Bal­ti­more; and a grand­son.

The Wash­ing­ton Times

Smith Hemp­stone be­came The Wash­ing­ton Times’ first ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor in 1982, then be­came ed­i­tor in chief two years later.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.