Joseph Gawler’s Sons, LLC

5130 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC


Robert Edward Dalton

February 6, 1932July 9, 2019

Robert E. Dalton of Washington, DC passed away on July 9, 2019. He was 87. Bob grew up in Westborough, Massachusetts, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross (1953), and earned his law degree from Columbia Law School (International and Comparative Law, 1956).

After serving in the United States Air Force (Captain), Bob began his long career, which spanned from 1961 to 2019, at the US Department of State. He started as an attorney in the Passport Office and joined the Office of the Legal Adviser (“L”) in 1967. As an attorney in L’s Office of United Nations Affairs, Bob was a member of the US delegation to both sessions of the Vienna Conference on the Law of Treaties at which the 1969 Vienna Convention on that subject was adopted. He served as the Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs from 1983 to 1987 and again from 1990 to 2008, and as Counselor on International Law from 1987 to 1990. From 2008 to 2019 he was L’s Senior Adviser on Treaty Practice. Until the very end of his life, Bob was providing wise counsel and writing on issues in treaty law and practice. His greatest hope was to create from his knowledge and experience resource material for 21st-century attorneys and treaty practitioners. In a 2012 Georgetown Law Journal article, the author recognized Bob’s “priceless research and analysis” and respectfully acknowledged him as “L legend Bob Dalton.”

Since 1991, Bob was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he received the Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award for the 2003-2004 academic year. Bob was a member of the American Law Institute and the American Society of International Law.

Outside the office, too, Bob was an enthusiastic seeker and sharer of knowledge. He was a member of the Cosmos Club and hoped to spend much time there after retirement. He welcomed opportunities to speak about his area of expertise as well as learn from the work of others. His one-mile daily commute to the office on foot kept him in shape (he also ran marathons in the 1980s and swam on a team for many years), and, together with his daily reading of the Wall Street Journal, also provided him with chances to expand his knowledge. Bob was interested in the arts, and though he may not have attended events often, he usually knew what was showing and playing in the area, and took pleasure in passing on the information. He himself would never miss anything related to Dutch still life painting. Bob also loved Paris and rather uncharacteristically treated himself to a visit in 2016. He believed he would cross the ocean at least once more for coffee and a croissant at an outdoor cafe.

Bob did not leave much of a carbon footprint. He sometimes had holes in his socks and often coffee shop napkins in his pockets. However, he did leave huge shoes to fill both in the Department that he loved and in the family whose history and stories he passed on faithfully to the next generation. Bob’s family, friends and colleagues will never forget his unique ability to enlighten, inspire and encourage those with whom he came in contact. Bob was predeceased by his brother Peter of Walpole, MA, and is survived by his brother Michael and sister-in-law Lynda of South Dennis, MA; his sister-in-law Frances of Walpole, MA; and his nieces and nephews and their families: Annette and Diane of Walpole, MA; Scott and Janice of Harwich, MA; Colleen and Masanao of Nagano, Japan; and Steven of Austin, TX.

Memorial arrangements will be announced at a later date.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Robert Edward Dalton

have a memory or condolence to add?