Retired U.S. Ambassador Robert William “Bill” Farrand passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on April 26, 2022 in Alexandria, VA after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
The oldest of six children, he was born in Watertown, NY on April 7, 1934, to Helen (Cain) and Robert Isaac Farrand. Bill was raised in the “North Country”, namely Adams and Albany. With a keen intellect and interest in the world, he earned degrees from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland (B.S.) and Georgetown University in Washington, DC (M.A.). He was also a graduate of the National War College in Washington, DC.
Bill served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1957-1964, including several tours at sea and time as an instructor in Economics and Government at the U.S. Naval Academy. His diplomatic career encompassed tours abroad in Malaysia, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and as ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (1990-93). In the State Department he served in the bureaus of economic affairs, European affairs, human rights and humanitarian affairs.
In 1988-89 he led a U.S. delegation of medical and forensic professionals to investigate the Soviet Union’s political weaponizing of psychiatry, for which he received a Superior Honor Award. In 1997-2000, he served as supervisor and deputy high representative for the disputed city of Brcko in Bosnia’s northeastern corner and led a multinational team in restoring freedom of movement across the ceasefire line, returning thousands of families to their homes destroyed during the 1993-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia, and rebuilding multiethnic government bodies. That experience led to his authorship (with Allison Frendak-Blume) of 2011’s "Reconstruction and Peace Building in the Balkans: The Brčko Experience", a reflection on how to create coalitions to promote peace in regions torn apart by conflict.
Bill ended his career as a distinguished fellow at George Mason University’s Peace Operations Policy Program and was a member of the Cornwallis Group, American Academy of Diplomacy, American Foreign Service Association, and Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.
Bill will be remembered by family and friends as smart, tough, patriotic, kind, and brave and all will especially miss his sense of humor and joie de vivre that he brought to every occasion. His Roman Catholic faith was deeply important to him and guided his commitment to human rights and the dignity of each individual.
Bill is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Pamela Kelley Farrand, two sisters, Nancy Miller of Phoenix, AZ and Beth Flanagan of Albany, NY; three children from his first marriage, William Farrand of Washington, DC, Michael Farrand of Vermont, and Carol Farrand of Washington, DC; two children with Pamela, Peter (Suzanne) Farrand of Alexandria, VA and Bridget (Daniel) Fox of Stamford, CT; and six grandchildren, Eleanor, Tommy, and Maura Fox, and Graham, Patrick and Jack Farrand.
The family would like to thank the dedicated staff of Goodwin House Alexandria, who tirelessly cared for Bill over the past three years.