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Elizabeth Ann Brown ’40

March 7, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth was writing her political science thesis on American isolationist propaganda at a difficult time for the nation and the college. An ominous cloud hung over Europe, and two of her professors disagreed violently about America’s isolationist views.

“My thesis was considered an insult to one of the professors,” Elizabeth remembered. “He refused to attend my orals on my thesis as a consequence.”

Prof. George Bernard Noble [political science 1922–48] advised her thesis, which explored some of the isolationist arguments from the standpoint of there being a propaganda campaign going on in the United States involving many political types at a high level, including John Foster Dulles, an isolationist then prominent in the religious peace movement. “My thesis was designed to show that their claims to intellectual accuracy in this period were farfetched,” Elizabeth said.

A year after she wrote her thesis, America entered the war. Elizabeth went on to have a brilliant foreign service career. Many years after writing her thesis, she came to know Dulles, who expressed regret for his parochial prewar views.

The daughter of Portland couple Edwin and Grace Brown, Elizabeth was a day dodger at Reed. She took a skiing conditioning class from Emilio Pucci ’37 and regularly attended when Prof. Noble hosted groups of students in his home to listen to the NBC Symphony concerts on the radio. She worked as a waitress in the newly built Timberline Lodge when the Works Progress Administration completed constructing it in 1937.

After Reed, Elizabeth was a teaching fellow at Washington State University and went on to get a master’s in political science from Columbia University. “There weren’t many Reed students in my day who went on to graduate school,” she said.

In 1946, she entered the foreign service with the State Department’s delegation at the first session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The following year, she was made a journeyman foreign service officer—one of the few female officers—at the Geneva United Nations meeting. In 1960, Elizabeth was appointed as First Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany. She became the director at the Office of U.N. Political Affairs, a political counselor at the American Embassy in Greece, and the deputy chief of mission at The Hague in the Netherlands. During her career, she came into contact with many prominent Americans at the United Nations, including Henry Cabot Lodge, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Adlai Stevenson. After retiring from the State Department in 1979, she dedicated much of her time to charity work. She was a world traveler, was devoted to her dogs, and participated in organizations promoting animal welfare.

A loyal Reed supporter, Elizabeth served on its National Advisory Council. In 1992, she was presented with the Foster-Scholz Club’s Distinguished Service Award, given to members of the Reed family who have made major contributions to the community and/or the college. She is survived by her cousin, Laura Lively, and many close friends who loved her dearly and are pleased to have been considered her family.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2017

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