I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of my friend and colleague Howard Wolpe. He was known for his love of country, passion for public service and commitment to the future of Africa. His passing is a loss for America and the world.
Howard was fond of sharing his favorite quote, by Harry Truman: “our job in government is to care for those who don’t have a voice.” Howard served the country he loved with these high ideals for more than 40 years.
As a congressman, Howard was incredibly dedicated to his constituents. The citizens of Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and Lansing always had a fighter on their side.
He was instrumental in the passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he wanted to personally thank Howard for his efforts.
As Special Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes Region under President Clinton, he supported peace talks that helped bring an end to long-standing civil wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the Woodrow Wilson Center, his pioneering work on post-conflict reconstruction made a major contribution to the peace efforts in several African countries emerging from ethnic conflict.
Two years ago I asked him if he would serve his country once again. I have counted on his advice and relied on his leadership as we worked to tackle some of the tough issues facing Africa.
I was proud to call Howard a friend, colleague and confidant. This is a sad day for me, for the State Department and for the United States.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Julie Fletcher, and son, Michael.