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OBITUARY

Walter Maximilian Bastian III

April 13, 1944March 8, 2018

Walter M. Bastian III of Sarasota, FL, Chevy Chase, MD, and Broadkill Beach, DE passed away on March 8, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Carla Desjean Bastian, two daughters, Carolyn McGavock (Adam) and Amy Bastian (Matthew), and his granddaughter, Skylar.

Walter was a dedicated public servant who served in the Air Force and spent 41 years at the Commerce Department, before retiring in 2015 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. His former colleagues sent out a heartfelt notification, which highlights his accomplishments, his ability to connect with people, and his love of Dairy Queen. It made us smile and tear up, and we wanted to share it with you. We've included it below.

After 41 years with the Commerce Department, Walter made an easy transition into retirement in 2015. He loved Sarasota, where he, Carla, and their Great Dane, Micha, would regularly entertain family and friends. He continued asking his signature question, "How's business?" of taxi drivers, store owners, restaurant workers--and if he could strike up the conversation in Spanish, all the better. Retirement also meant creating new routines, including the morning visit to Dunkin' Donuts for an iced coffee, laps in their pool, and at least one run to the grocery store. Many of us will miss the phone calls we received from the grocery store parking lots of Sarasota.

All who knew Walter will miss him. As his parents would say to him before he traveled, "¡Feliz viaje! Buen éxito."

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From the International Trade Administration Subject: Passing of Walter Bastian

I am deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of former Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Walter Bastian. After graduating from Georgetown and serving as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Walter joined the Commerce Department in 1974 as a Central America Desk Officer. He served in many other roles in the Office of the Western Hemisphere before retiring in 2015. Walter’s father’s career in the Foreign Service meant that Walter grew up all over the Western Hemisphere. He lived in El Salvador, Cuba, Ecuador, and Argentina.

His training for his career fighting trade barriers with the Department of Commerce began at the age of four during his first Christmas in El Salvador. His mother wrote several years ago for a community newsletter about a worried youngster whose Christmas presents were delayed when Santa got stuck in customs overnight.

Walter had many great accomplishments at the Department of Commerce – too many to name. He trekked all over the Western Hemisphere making the case for improved trade in the region. He believed strongly in taking the time, taking the personal approach, and challenging the conventional wisdom.

Walter led his team in designing the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF), which is now in its twelfth year, and the Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE), which seeks to expand commercial linkages in our Hemisphere through increased innovation, and public-private partnerships. He saw the successful implementation of free trade agreements with Central America, Panama, Peru and Colombia. He worked on Cuba policy. He was a staunch supporter of North American competitiveness through the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and created the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference.

Walter received numerous awards for his work during his outstanding career, including the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious recognition afforded to career U.S. Government professionals. Walter was a mentor to many around the building, including several U.S. Department of Commerce Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries and everyone else in the building who sought his sage advice on all things Latin America and life in general. Walter had a profound impact on everyone he met and was loved and well-respected around the Hemisphere.

Walter would want you to remember the good times you shared, have a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and celebrate his life.

Services

  • Walter Maximilian Bastian III Family Greeting Friday, March 23, 2018
  • Walter Maximilian Bastian III Memorial Service Friday, March 23, 2018
REMEMBERING

Walter Maximilian Bastian III

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RECEIVE UPDATES
Christian Klein

May 6, 2018

In 2010, as an intern in the Office of Western Hemisphere at Department of Commerce, I worked with Walter and remember him for his great sense of humor, and his dedication to advancing trade facilitation throughout the Americas. I was fortunate enough to work with him to organize the 2010 ACF in Atlanta. I also remember going to get lunch with him and other West Hem employees as a group at the Commerce cafeteria "The Marketplace". It's not often that someone of his position would share lunch with an intern so often. I will remember him fondly.

Frank Lavin

March 26, 2018

My condolences to the family. I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Walter as ITA Undersecretary, and he was a dedicated professional as well as a delightful person. Walter dedicated his professional life to improving US relations in Latin America, helping businesses succeed, and promoting economic growth. He brought deep experience to his role. He always ideas and he always had a smile. Prayers for Walter

Lois Lynch

March 26, 2018

Dear Mrs. B: So sorry about Walter. I know you can take comfort in how successfully he lived. Walter was the best man I ever knew at the Department of Commerce: self-effacingly smart, graciously polite, considerate, kind, wonderful looking, with an endless string of accomplishments and awards. We learned so much from him but would need his writing flair and humor to pinpoint his essence. He made each person feel special and was loved a lot. Lucky to have worked with him for 18 years and miss the camaraderie and his spirit every day. Lois Lynch

Dorothy Lutter

March 23, 2018

My profound condolences go out to Walter's entire family.

As a member of the Foreign Commercial Service, I had l the pleasure of first getting to know Walter in Washington when I was the FCS Regional Director for the Western Hemisphere and Walter the Regional MAC Director, and again as SCO Mexico when Walter was our DAS. We retired within a year of each other.

Walter was a wonderful friend and colleague. He was taken from you and from all of us much too soon. He left a wonderful personal and professional legacy, and will be missed throughout the entire western hemisphere.

un abrazo fuerte, Dorothy Lutter

Victoria Ibáñez

March 22, 2018

Kathleen Barclay

March 22, 2018

I had the privilege of knowing Walter for nearly two decades. He was a great inspiration to all of us who have worked with Latin America. His love for the region and its people, as well as his unwavering support for US business was highly valued. As a former Chair of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and Past President of Amcham Chile, I worked closely with him - particularly on matters related to the US-Chile and US- Colombia Free Trade Agreements. His energy, understanding of Latin American and his ability to get things done were amazing. He challenged us all to be better business leaders and people. Thank you Walter for all that you did for Latin America. You will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to his family.

Kathleen C. Barclay

David Lewis

March 21, 2018

I was privileged to first meet Walter back in the late 1980s in Puerto Rico prior to me joining the government there to work on CBI during the Reagan Administration. Walter was already the lead in Commerce on engaging Puerto Rico into the CBI trade and investment efforts and pushing always for greater trade and business between Puerto Rico and the region and the US. He was driven, open, transparent, sincere, engaging, supportive, … as so many of you have pointed correctly.

Throughout the 1980s-1990s in my work in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean the ever-present Walter Bastian was always supportive and engaging… by 1996 I moved to Washington to join CCAA and then I went private with Manchester Trade in 2000, joining Peter Johnson, Antonio “Tito” Colorado, and Stephen Lande, respectively. Each of which confirmed to me now in the Washington environment how important Walter was in the US trade and business agenda with the region and all of the Americas. They and many others have and will add to this “celebration” on behalf of this “hemispheric agenda” which was so central to Walter’s being…

For Walter this “hemispheric” engagement was more than a career and government agenda, it was a personal belief he had as to the importance of greater linkages and collaboration between us all in the Americas. We did not all have to agree with his efforts and initiatives, but we all certainly did respect his commitment, vision, passion and love for this work! And we all benefitted so much from his sharing and supporting us all in all parts of the region and in all forms of action and efforts. What mattered was that he was always supportive, engaged, committed and full of encouragement for all sorts of initiatives and efforts… his was a once in a lifetime effort and we all were made greater and can cherish how he enriched us all so much and well!

Gracias Walter por compartir con nosotros este gran viaje, viaja bien amigo con éxitos y con bendiciones!

God-bless and thank you Walter.

David Lewis

March 21, 2018

I was privileged to first meet Walter back in the late 1980s in Puerto Rico prior to me joining the government there to work on CBI during the Reagan Administration. Walter was already the lead in Commerce on engaging Puerto Rico into the CBI trade and investment efforts and pushing always for greater trade and business between Puerto Rico and the region and the US. He was driven, open, transparent, sincere, engaging, supportive, … as so many of you have pointed correctly.

Throughout the 1980s-1990s in my work in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean the ever-present Walter Bastian was always supportive and engaging… by 1996 I moved to Washington to join CCAA and then I went private with Manchester Trade in 2000, joining Peter Johnson, Antonio “Tito” Colorado, and Stephen Lande, respectively. Each of which confirmed to me now in the Washington environment how important Walter was in the US trade and business agenda with the region and all of the Americas. They and many others have and will add to this “celebration” on behalf of this “hemispheric agenda” which was so central to Walter’s being…

For Walter this “hemispheric” engagement was more than a career and government agenda, it was a personal belief he had as to the importance of greater linkages and collaboration between us all in the Americas. We did not all have to agree with his efforts and initiatives, but we all certainly did respect his commitment, vision, passion and love for this work! And we all benefitted so much from his sharing and supporting us all in all parts of the region and in all forms of action and efforts. What mattered was that he was always supportive, engaged, committed and full of encouragement for all sorts of initiatives and efforts… his was a once in a lifetime effort and we all were made greater and can cherish how he enriched us all so much and well!

Gracias Walter por compartir con nosotros este gran viaje, viaja bien amigo con éxitos y con bendiciones!

God-bless and thank you Walter.

Eric Stewart

March 21, 2018

Simply put, Walter will always embody "the BEST" in my mind. He was the best friend, the best colleague and the best mentor to me. Seeing Walter was always highly anticipated and equally as satisfying. It was guaranteed that during every conversation we had--laughing was a requirement. As a former colleague from the Commerce Department, Walter and I continued our close friendship and working relationship even after his retirement. I spoke with 10 days before he left us and like most encounters with Walter--I will treasurer the last memory as much as I cherish the 17th years we were friends. There was and always will only be one Walter--the BEST!

Julia Rauner Guerrero

March 20, 2018


Dear Carla, Carolyn, and Amy,

My most heartfelt condolences to you on Walter’s passing. At this sad time, I want to especially thank you for sharing Walter with so many of us at the Commerce Department who were enthusiastically mentored by him in our careers and our lives.

Walter was my first boss 30 years ago and lifelong mentor whom I will never forget. While leading Commerce’s critical work in the Western Hemisphere, he always made time for his team to guide our professional development and be a wonderful friend. In my early days at Commerce, I was fortunate to work with him on Caribbean Basin issues complete with his requisite Café Cubano stop in the Miami airport during transits to the region. I fondly recall Walter coaching me on retirement savings and even screening my then boyfriend before we were married. Later, catching up with Walter was always a highlight of my visits back to DC.

Walter molded and inspired a generation of Commerce colleagues. We will miss him greatly, but will keep alive his memory in our passion for our work building business connections for US companies around the world.

Fondly,
Julia Rauner Guerrero