Passing of Ambassador W. Howard Wriggins

The Embassy of the United States in Colombo regrets to announce the death of Ambassador William Howard Wriggins on August 30, 2008, in Hannover, New Hampshire. Dr. Wriggins served as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from 1977-1979.

Born in 1918, Ambassador Wriggins studied at Darmouth College, the University of Chicago, and Yale University. During World War II, he interrupted his studies for four years to assist the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) with relief activities in Portugal, North Africa, Spain and France. He later continued service with AFSC, providing support in Gaza.

Following his stay in Gaza, Ambassador Wriggins began an illustrious career in academia and public service. In 1960, he penned what would become a landmark work, his first published book, “Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation.” His interest in South Asia, and specifically Sri Lanka, continued his entire life. He authored numerous book and papers on Sri Lanka, including a biography of former President Jayewardene, which he co-authored with K.M. de Silva, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Ceylon.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter asked Dr. Wriggins to be the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. At the time, Ambassador Wriggins was Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Columbia University. He took a leave of absence to serve as Ambassador, and resumed his duties at Columbia following his tenure. At Columbia, Ambassador Wiggins was one of the foremost scholars of Sri Lankan studies in the United States. He later became the Director of Columbia’s Southern Asian Institute, and, at the time of his death, was the Bryce Professor of International Relations, Emeritus.

Ambassador Wriggins’ interest and love for Sri Lanka spanned 50 years. He traveled frequently to the island and maintained close contact with his many Sri Lankan friends up until his death.

He survived by his wife, Sally Hovey Wriggins, three children, and six grandchildren.

To mark the life and achievements of Ambassador Wriggins, the U.S. Embassy invites those who knew him to submit words of remembrance.

The Embassy will compile the comments, anecdotes, and photos in a memorial brochure which we will present to the family of Ambassador Wriggins.

Please send your contributions to Jeff Anderson at andersonjj2@state.gov or Jeff Anderson; American Center; 44, Galle Road; Colombo 3

[Statement by US Embassy, Cololmbo, Sri Lanka, Sep 18, 2008]

Related: Books by Ambassador W. Howard Wriggins on Amazon.com

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