Former FSO & U.S. Ambassador to Zaire
MPA, Class of 1952
Brandon Grove (1929-2016), Princeton MPA 1952.
Ambassador Brandon Grove’s wide-ranging diplomatic career spanned 35 years in the United States Foreign Service under 9 presidents and 12 secretaries of state.
Born in Chicago to a Polish mother and an American father in the international oil business, he was raised in Europe during his early years, mainly in Nazi Germany. He held degrees from Bard College and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.
During the Korean War he served to the rank of Lieutenant becoming a boat group commander in the Navy’s amphibious force in the Western Pacific. His diplomatic assignments took him to posts in Africa, India, West and East Berlin, and Jerusalem, where he was consul general during Israel’s war with Lebanon in the 1980s, and an explosion of settlement activity on the West Bank.
In West Berlin during the height of the Cold War, he served as the U.S. liaison officer to the city government led by Mayor Willy Brandt. In 1974, Brandon Grove became the first U.S. diplomat accredited to communist East Germany, where he established the American embassy in East Berlin and lived with his family behind the Berlin Wall for two years. Later he served as President Reagan’s ambassador to Zaire under the dictatorship of President Mobutu Sese Seko.
In Washington he worked on Caribbean and Central American affairs and the negotiation of a new canal treaty with Panama. The Jonestown suicides occurred on his watch. He served on the policy planning staffs of secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Warren Christopher.
During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Ambassador Grove was responsible for foreign affairs training throughout the United States government, coordinating the design and construction of a permanent home for the Foreign Service Institute at Arlington Hall, Virginia.
In 2010 his alma mater, Bard College, accorded him its highest honor, a doctorate in Humane Letters, for a lifetime of work in America’s foreign relations.
Upon retiring from the Foreign Service Brandon Grove taught at Hamilton College, and served as executive director of a task force on genocide prevention chaired by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former secretary of defense William Cohen.
Ambassador Grove was president emeritus of the American Academy of Diplomacy, in Washington, D.C.
In June 2005, the University of Missouri Press published his acclaimed autobiography, Behind Embassy Walls: The Life and Times of an American Diplomat. In a concluding comment on his Foreign Service career, Grove drew upon the lyrics of a sentimental song, Thanks for the Memories: “You might have been a headache,” Frank Sinatra acknowledges, “but you never were a bore.”