Lawrence S. Eagleburger, the only career U.S. foreign service officer to rise to the position of secretary of state, died Saturday. He was 80. Eagleburger died in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a short illness, according to a family friend. Two of his one-time bosses, former President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, mourned the retired Eagleburger and praised his service. "As good as they come" was Baker's description.
A straightforward diplomat whose exuberant style masked a hard-driving commitment to solving tangled foreign policy problems, Eagleburger held the top post at the State Department for five months when Baker resigned in the summer of 1992 to help Bush in an unsuccessful bid for re-election. The elder Bush offered this memory: "During one of the tensest moments of the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein began attacking Israel with Scud missiles trying cynically and cruelly to bait them into the conflict, we sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition. It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic." Eagleburger also served in the Nixon, Carter, and Reagan administrations.