Richard S. Williamson

May 9, 1949December 8, 2013

Ambassador Richard Salisbury Williamson (1949-2013) of Kenilworth, IL, passed away on December 8, 2013 surrounded by his loving family. Born in Evanston, IL, Rich was raised in Winnetka, IL and attended New Trier High School. He received his B.A. in Religion and Philosophy at Princeton University and his JD at the University of Virginia Law School. While at Princeton, Rich was the President of his senior class. While at UVA, he was executive editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law. During his time at Princeton, Rich met the love of his life, Jane Thatcher, a student at Wellesley College. It was love at first sight, and they would marry shortly thereafter. Jane would go on to receive her Master's degree at UVA while studying alongside her husband. After obtaining his Juris Doctor, Rich began his long and dedicated career in public service at the local, state, national and international level. In addition to his chairmanship of the Illinois Republican Party, Rich served three presidents in various senior policy positions: Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs in Ronald Reagan’s White House, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations at the State Department under President George H.W. Bush, and in George W. Bush’s administration he served as Ambassador to the United Nations for Political Affairs, Ambassador to the U.N Commission on Human Rights, and finally as the President's Special Envoy to Sudan. As time progressed, Rich dedicated his life to the honorable and difficult mission of promoting human rights and democracy all over the world. He was active in many organizations who shared that mission, including but not limited to his role as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, affiliations with the Chicago Council of Global Affairs and the Center for New American Security, a board member of Freedom House and at the McCain Institute for Leadership, and vice-chair of the International Republican Institute, an NGO dedicated to the advancement of democracy across the globe, which took him to some incredible places over the years. He was adamant about sharing what he learned from his travels and his various associations with others to heighten awareness of the need for increased focus on the advancement of democracy and the protection of human rights. He did that through his adjunct professorship at Northwestern University, and his authorship of seven books and countless articles. Most recently, he co-authored the report, "The United States and the Responsibility to Protect," examining the necessary steps to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Rich was a scholar, diplomat, author, and public servant, but above all else, he was an unwavering and dedicated family man whose love for his family was beyond measure. He is survived by his loving wife of forty years, Jane Thatcher, his three children Elisabeth Graham (Ryan), Craig Salisbury, and Richard Middleton (Sara), his granddaughter, Cora Jane, his brother, Bruce (Alice), his sister, Barb (Erv) and ten nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held 3:00-7:00pm Friday, December 13th, at Scott's Funeral Home 1100 Greenleaf Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091. Services will be held Saturday, December 14th, at 2:00pm at Kenilworth Union Church 211 Kenilworth Avenue, Kenilworth, IL 60043. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the International Republican Institute in his honor.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, December 14, 2013
  • Visitation Friday, December 13, 2013

Richard S. Williamson

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Annette (Barrett) Polk

December 9, 2014

Dear Jane & Children,

Rich had an amazing life. His dedication to his family & his passion for his life's work is unmatched. I worked with him in Congressman Crane's Office & he was a great boss, the best I have ever had, 2nd to none. I loved him & will remember him always & his impact on my life.

With deepest sympathies,
Annette, Bob & Jenna Polk

February 19, 2014

Dear Jane and family, I was fortunate enough to have Craig as my high school helper at Kenilworth Union. Craig was a wonderful reflection on you and Rich as parents and exemplary members of our community. Your loss is a loss for all of us. Fondly, Marie (Harris) Dentes

Toby & Charles Gati

December 19, 2013

Dear Jane and family -- We were honored to call Rich our friend. He was a wonderful person who knew what mattered in this world. He cared about people, not just causes, and he was never afraid to defend those who couldn't defend themselves.

With our deepest sympathy,
Toby and Charles Gati
Washington, DC

Alex McAlister

December 18, 2013

Jane, I've known Rich since first grade and he was truly a great friend and leader. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family.

December 14, 2013


Gail Shorr

December 13, 2013

We are so sad to hear of your loss of Mr. Williamson. It has been a long time since we have seen you, but remember you as a wonderful family.
Our condolences to you,
The staff of Pediatric Associates of the North Shore

Robert Sarofeen

December 13, 2013

I served with Amb. Williamson in Vienna and considered him to be an outstanding public servant and representative of the USA, a great family man, and a great human being. A great loss.

December 12, 2013

Very, very sorry to hear of the death of Rich. My prayers are for Jane and their family. Much love, Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi, classmate at University of Virginia Law School.

Edward Powers

December 12, 2013

I had the honor of serving with him in Vienna.
RIP Mr. Ambassador.


December 12, 2013

Please accept my sympathy for your loss. During this time, may all be comforted by the wonderful promise: "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes and death will be no more. Neither mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."