Fellows’ Lives Lived
Sir Michael Palliser, GCMG, PC, who continued to make important intellectual contributions to the Weatherhead Center in the decades following his time as a Fellow (1982), died on June 19, 2012, at the age of ninety. Preceded in death by his beloved wife, Marie Marguerite Spaak, he is survived by his three sons. Sir Michael’s death came just a few days after the Center’s annual conference in Talloires, France, a gathering that he rarely missed and where he consistently shared his valuable insights and expertise on international affairs. He was, according to the Guardian, “one of the outstanding British diplomats of this generation.” Educated at Merton College, Oxford, he served with the Coldstream Guards during World War II before joining the Foreign Office in 1947. Recognized almost immediately for his great promise, he became, early in his career, private secretary to the Foreign Office’s permanent under-secretary. Successive assignments took him to Dakar, Paris, Brussels, and back to London, where he served as head of the diplomatic service. He remained very active in retirement from the Foreign Office, becoming chairman of Samuel Montagu & Co., and chairman of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He retired in November 2010 from the board of the Salzberg Global Seminar.
His many friends and colleagues describe best what Sir Michael Palliser meant to the Weatherhead Center, to Harvard University, and to the world of diplomacy. Jorge Dominguez, vice provost for international affairs and former Center director (1996–2006), offers these words about Sir Michael: “Smart, elegant, insightful, articulate, effective—Michael Palliser gave new meaning to words such as ‘diplomat,’ ‘savvy,’ ‘cosmopolitan,’ and, especially, ‘friend.’ He was one of the architects of the Atlantic relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, a discerning British Europeanist, and a statesman whose wise counsel made decisions and policies more successful at different times, places, and circumstances. He was a valuable and indispensable adviser to me during my years as Weatherhead Center director, and he was a proud member of the community of Weatherhead Fellows worldwide.”
Sir Richard Evans, a Fellow at the Center (1974–1975), died on August 24, 2012, in Wiltshire, England, at the age of eighty-four. He is survived by his wife Grania and their two sons. Sir Richard Evans, KCMG, KCVO, had a long and distinguished career as a diplomat. His exposure to China began shortly after he entered the Foreign Service in 1952, when he began Chinese language training. His first overseas assignment was at the British Embassy in Beijing, a place that he would become very familiar with during several postings in the years that followed. He served there as ambassador from 1984 to 1988, a time that included delicate negotiations leading to the handover of Hong Kong to China. According to an obituary in the Telegraph, Ambassador Evans was recognized and praised for his “steadiness and good sense.” Though he also served with distinction in Stockholm, Paris, and London (he was assistant to the then deputy under-secretary of state), China was central to his diplomatic career and even informed his work following his retirement from the diplomatic service in 1988. He became a senior research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford (and then a fellow emeritus) and produced, in 1993, a biography of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China. Herbert Levin, also a Fellow in 1974–1975 who became a close friend, recalls his shared interest in China with Sir Richard. He was, in Levin’s own words, a “scrupulous, realistic, charming British diplomat,” whose presence benefited the Center.