US Ambassador Remembered as “Great and Courageous Man”

Maryknoll Sisters were saddened to learn this week of the passing of a dear friend, US Ambassador Robert White.

Ambassador White, who died on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at the age of 88, was serving as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador in December 1980 when Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, along with Jean Donovan and Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, members of the Diocese of Cleveland’s mission team, were murdered by National Guardsmen in El Salvador.

The ambassador provided significant logistical and emotional assistance to the Maryknoll Sisters in the days and weeks following the women’s deaths, the Sisters recalled, and Sister Madeline Dorsey, MM, who was living in San Salvador during those dark days, remembers Ambassador White “as a great and courageous man, a man of truth.”

By February 1981, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Jr. forced White’s resignation from the foreign service because White refused Haig’s demand to use official channels to cover up the Salvadoran military’s responsibility for the murders.

The Maryknoll Sisters will always remember Robert White with the deepest admiration and respect, and will always have great appreciation for the efforts he took to support fully the communities of both the Sisters and the Salvadoran people whom they served. He was an exceptional public servant and he will be missed. The Maryknoll Sisters hold his family and friends in prayer.