Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gracious ambassador

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I was saddened to learn of Dan Rooney’s passing, but pleased to have had two experience­s with him that I thought those who mourn him might appreciate. They are representa­tive of his generous, humble and funny spirit.

Dan Rooney was serving as U.S. ambassador to Ireland when I was working in the U.S. Embassy in Portugal. We happened to attend a NATO conference in Brussels at the same time. Although I am a tremendous Dallas Cowboys fan and meeting him might bring back painful memories, I decided I should introduce myself. So I went up to him at a reception we were both attending and introduced myself, joking that although we were both working on the same team now, it was difficult for me to be friendly because I was from Dallas and a Cowboys fan. But my mother had raised me to be polite, so sadly that meant polite to him, too. He laughed and said, “You do know that I am just the owner and didn’t actually play in any of those Super Bowls?”

A few months later, he and his wife were on vacation in Portugal and paid a courtesy call on me at our embassy in Lisbon. This was customary — a U.S. ambassador on personal travel on another ambassador’s “turf” should by protocol request a courtesy call. It’s an old

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