WASHINGTON—Richard Williamson, a Republican National Committeeman from Illinois, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and a former Illinois U.S. Senate candidate died Sunday, according to the Illinois Republican Party. Williamson, 64, died at the Evanston Hospital.
Romney said in a statement, “With the passing of Ambassador Rich Williamson, the nation has lost a noble patriot, and I have lost a dear friend. Time and again, Rich put aside the fruits of lucrative private practice to answer the call to serve our country. His was a consistent call to strengthen our alliances, to face down tyranny, and to share the promise of freedom around the globe. His courage and conviction also encompassed the political sphere; he spoke out time and again in support of candidates committed to American strength and leadership.
“Rich was instrumental in helping shape my foreign policy priorities and he spoke frequently and convincingly in support of my candidacy. A man of conviction, courage and constancy. I will miss him and the nation will miss his dedicated service.”
Williamson also advised the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain R-Az. McCain said in a statement, “In addition to his dedicated government service, Rich was a noted author, professor and attorney who was involved in a wide variety of civic organizations, including serving as Vice Chairman of the International Republican Institute, as senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and as a trustee of Freedom House and the McCain Institute for International Leadership. Rich was also the Republican Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 1993 and served as a senior foreign policy advisor to my presidential campaign in 2008 and Mitt Romney’s in 2012.
“Rich made an enormous difference in the lives of people around the world, and he will be dearly missed. He loved his country deeply and dedicated his professional life to helping further our nation’s capacity as a force for good throughout the world. I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and many friends.”
Former President George W. Bush appointed Williamson to be a special envoy for Sudan in 2008, given the task to help stop the genocidal killings in the Darfur region. Under Bush, Williamson was also tapped for an ambassadorship at the United Nations.
Williamson was working on the issue of genocide and mass atrocity prevention at the time of his death with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. In a report they issued last July they concluded, “Sixty-eight years after the Holocaust, governments continue to struggle with how to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.”
Albright said Williamson was “a dear friend, thoughtful leader and great public servant, passed away last night. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.
“In the last few years, Rich and I found that we shared mutual passions for aiding the spread of democracy and the prevention of mass atrocities. We first worked together in 2010 as co-chairs of the U.S.-China High Level Political Dialogue under the auspices of the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the East-West Institute. We also led a working group on preventing atrocities and the Responsibility to Protect in conjunction with the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Brookings Institution, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.
“Through our work together, I came to respect Rich’s intellect, his courage, and his heart. Rich said in July at the Holocaust Museum that, “What has made the United States different is not only that it was founded on a belief in human rights, but in the last one hundred years we have allowed it to animate our foreign policy.” As the U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Peacekeeping and President Bush’s Special Envoy to Sudan, he said he was continually shocked about the capacity of man’s inhumanity. Instead of resigning himself to accepting that brutal truth, he traveled through Sudan, Darfur, Chad, and Congo, where he met with countless refugees and sought ways to overcome injustice.
“As the years go by, it is harder and harder to make new friends. It is even more difficult to lose one of Rich’s caliber. I will miss him.”
Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. said in a statement, “”I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Amb. Rich Williamson, a dear friend and long-time foreign policy adviser. I extend my heartfelt condolences to Jane and the entire Williamson family. From the White House to the State Department to the United Nations to the International Republican Institute, Rich dedicated his life to spreading American values of freedom and democracy around the world. Like President Reagan, Rich believed in peace through strength, in that shining city upon a hill. I will miss his friendship and counsel.”
Williamson ran against former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun for a Senate seat from Illinois in 1992.
From the Illinois GOP: “The Illinois Republican Party is mourning the passing of Rich Williamson, the Republican National Committeeman for the Illinois GOP since 2010. Williamson served as chairman of the party from 1999-2001, served three presidents in senior Foreign Service roles, and was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 1992.
“Illinois Republican Party Chairman Jack Dorgan urged all Illinoisans to keep Williamson’s wife and children in their thoughts and prayers.”