The White House announced the president’s intent to nominate handbag designer and Mar-a-Lago member Lana Marks to be his ambassador to South Africa. If confirmed, she would replaced Patrick Gaspard who served as Ambassador to Pretoria from 2013-2016. The last career diplomat appointed as Ambassador to South Africa was Cameron R. Hume who served from 2001-2004.
Prior appointees to this position also include Donald Gips who previously served as Vice President Al Gore’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor; career diplomat and three-time Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman; and career diplomat and four-time Ambassador Edward Joseph Perkins,
New: Trump nominates handbag entrepreneur (and Mar-a-Lago member) Lana Marks to be his ambassador to South Africa. Marks is the 4th Mar-a-Lago member Trump has recruited to serve as a U.S. ambassador. https://t.co/Z9fkRM1Jzg pic.twitter.com/PMjq42IUEP
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) November 14, 2018
— Elizabeth Yuan (@baoyuan) November 15, 2018
This would be the 4th Mar-a-Lago member–aka paying customer–Trump has nominated for an ambassadorship.https://t.co/NGVDU6xORV
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 22, 2018
Meet the woman President Trump just named as the new US ambassador to
South Africa (this story was written before it was official) https://t.co/mj0OsmkGGU
— Tony Cavin (@TCavin) November 14, 2018
Here's everything you need to know about Lana Marks, the Palm Beach handbag designer President Trump might nominate as an ambassador. https://t.co/4I9p39xe1O
— W magazine (@wmag) October 23, 2018
Lived in S Africa a third of my life; studied at Wits Univ; spoke fluent Xhosa; passed the Hoërtaalbond Eksamen in Afrikaans; background in SA political, economic, social & media landscape; businesswoman for 30 years; mom for 37 years; wife for 42 years; ninja, forever!!
— LANA MARKS (@LanaMarks) October 21, 2018
— Domani Spero
We previously posted about the December 12 death of a U.S. Embassy Accra employee while visiting Cape Town, South Africa. (See US Embassy Accra Employee Falls to Death on South Africa’s Table Mountain). We subsequently learned the identity of the employee but decided not to publish his name as we could not confirm independently that the family back in California has been notified. His hometown newspaper had since identified him in a news article as William E. Callahan Jr., 53, a prominent psychiatrist in Aliso Viejo, California. He was the State Department’s Regional Psychiatrist covering West Africa. Below is an excerpt from OCRegister:
Callahan had left his private psychiatry practice in California last year to join the U.S. State Department as a Regional Medical Officer and Psychiatrist based out of the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana, said Kenneth Dekleva, Director of Mental Health Services at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Dekleva said the news came as a shock to him and his department last Friday when he found out Callahan’s body had been recovered by South African authorities near the Table Mountain Range.
“His death has touched many people: my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Friday…we lost one of our own,” Dekleva said. “It’s a huge loss for our organization. He represented the best in psychiatry in my opinion. We’re very proud to have known him and to have had him as part of our team.”
Dekleva said that the investigation surrounding the circumstances of Callahan’s death is ongoing in South Africa.
Memorial services are planned in Accra on Wednesday. Services in Greenfield, Mass. and Laguna Beach will occur in early 2014, the State Department said.
Dr. Callahan joined the State Department in July 2012. Our source told us that “he was an avid outdoorsman and in great shape. He was well-liked in Accra and at the other embassies he covered in West Africa.”
According to his online bio, he was a Special Forces flight surgeon turned psychiatrist. “With the constant deployments in my military unit on clandestine missions, I observed how stress in a family member can jump from person to person and lead to physical illness as well. After 5 years of active duty and 9 of total service, I left the military to get the training to become a board certified psychiatrist.”
He was previously the president of the Orange County Psychiatric Society. For 15 years prior to joining the State Department, he provided a two hour a week, free, open-to-the-public group for families dealing with a mental illness called Interactive Solutions.
Dr. Callahan’s service in the military included a general surgery internship at David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, CA followed by assignment to the 8th Special Operations Squadron as a flight surgeon, at Hurlburt Field, FL. He served in both the First Gulf War and Panama Wars, and received two Meritorious Service Medals. He was the 1988 Flight Surgeon of the Year within the First Special Operations Wing.
He graduated from Deerfield Academy (1978), Tufts University (1982), Tufts Medical School (1986) and did General Surgery Internship at Travis AFB, CA (1987), and his Residency in Psychiatry at UC Irvine (1994).
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— Domani Spero
Updated on 12/20/13 – see State Dept Regional Psychiatrist William Callahan, 53, Dies in Cape Town
South Africa’s Independent Online reported on December 13 that an American diplomat fell to his death while hiking on the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesman told the reporter that “It appears that the man fell to his death on a rocky slope called Porcupine buttress. The area is known to be dangerous and another hiker nearly died during a fall there last year.” Excerpt:
Five volunteer teams from Wilderness Search and Rescue searched through the night. Then, shortly after 6am on Friday morning, the 53-year-old man’s body was spotted by an Emergency Medical Services helicopter. Two paramedics were lowered from the helicopter to the body. The man was declared dead at the scene.
Police have identified the victim. However, the American Embassy’s spokesman, Jack Hillmeyer, asked the Cape Argus not to publish the name because they had not received official confirmation and his next of kin had not yet been notified.
Read the report here.
Will Stevens, the Spokesperson for the Bureau of African Affairs confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen visiting South Africa on December 12. We cannot confirm if the individual was a diplomat, only that he/she was an employee of the U.S. Embassy Accra in Ghana who died in South Africa. Below is the full statement from Mr. Stevens:
“I can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen visiting South Africa on December 12. We are saddened by the death of this Embassy Accra employee, and offer our condolences to the individual’s family and loved ones on their loss. Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, I have no further comment.”
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Various press outlets reported the death of a USG employee in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday. Today, the embassy spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer confirmed the death and identified the deceased:
The U.S. Embassy confirms the death of Consulate General Johannesburg employee Christopher “Norm” Bates on January 13, 2013. Bates has been assigned as the Information Management Officer at Consulate Johannesburg since 2010. He was an 11 year employee of the Department of State and had previously served at U.S. embassies in Senegal, Kenya, and Lesotho.
The circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated by the South African Police. The State Department’s Diplomatic security staff is cooperating with the police investigation.
We are saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend. Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.
Local news cited Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini saying that the consulate employee was seen driving into Oxford Gardens on Oxford Road in Illovo with a 29-year-old woman at about 3am. The woman was later alleged to have a knife in her hand and the victim stabbed on the upper body. The consulate employee was reported to have died at the scene and the woman was arrested by local police.
The US Mission in South Africa includes approximately 310 U.S. and 560 locally engaged staff employed by 28 U.S. Government departments and agencies. In addition to the Embassy in Pretoria, we have Consulate Generals in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
We will update if we learn more.