Mr. Dean, a career foreign service officer who favored diplomacy over military action, died on June 6 at his home in Paris, his family said. He was 93.
A refugee from Nazi Germany, he served as the American ambassador to five countries — Cambodia, Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand and India. His highest-profile role came during the fall of Cambodia - before his evacuation by helicopter to Thailand, he took the American flag that had flown at the United States Embassy,
Mr. Dean was born Gunther Dienstfertig on Feb. 24, 1926, in Breslau, Germany, now part of Poland, to Josef and Lucia (Ashkenaczy) Dienstfertig. His father was a corporate lawyer, banker and industrialist as well as a leader of the Jewish community in Breslau.
On the eve of World War II, the family fled Germany, first to Holland, then to England before sailing on the Queen Mary to the United States, where they changed their name to Dean. They settled in Kansas City, Mo., where his father took a teaching job.
He was officially John Gunther Dean by the time he became a naturalized citizen in 1944. At 16 he enrolled at Harvard, then enlisted in the Army, where his skill at languages — German, English and French — landed him in military intelligence. After the war he returned to Harvard, studied international law and relations and graduated in 1947.
He earned a law degree from the Sorbonne in 1949 and a master’s in international relations from Harvard in 1950.
In Paris working on the Marshall Plan he met Martine Duphenieux, the daughter of a prominent family; she was working in the French Foreign Office at the time. They married in 1952. She survives him, along with their daughter, Catherine Curtis; their sons, Paul and Joseph; and seven grandchildren.
As ambassador to Cambodia from 1974-75, Mr. Dean sought to bring about a negotiated “controlled” solution to the Cambodian war, much as he had in Laos. But this put him openly at odds with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who saw no reason to negotiate.
He was forced to retire in the late 1980s. But it was his experience in Cambodia, compelled to leave people behind, that remained most anguishing for him.more » « less