Toon, Former Ambassador, Dies
Ambassador Malcolm "Mac" Toon, a distinguished American diplomat, died last Thursday in Pinehurst. He was 92.
After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Toon worked in the foreign service as an officer from 1946-1960, which included stops in Warsaw, Budapest and Berlin.
He also served as U.S. ambassador to four countries: Czechoslovakia from 1969 to 1972, Yugoslavia from 1972 to 1975, Israel from 1975 to 1976 and the Soviet Union from 1976 to 1979.
Sandhills Community College President John Dempsey, a longtime friend, called Toon the most decorated foreign service officer in history besides George Kennan.
"I just adored him," he said. "He was just a really interesting guy."
Dempsey first met Toon on a trip to the USSR with a group of students in 1976. He said Toon's direct and blunt nature set him apart from other diplomats.
"He just wasn't what you'd expect from a foreign service officer," he said.
In February 2003, Toon shared his opinions about the impending war in Iraq with The Pilot in a question-and-answer session. In his trademark direct manner, he cautioned then-President Bush against moving too quickly to depose Saddam Hussein.
"I would be really uncomfortable, if I were president, cranking up imminent hostilities with Saddam Hussein," he said. "Don't misunderstand me. This guy is an S.O.B., and we have to get rid of him, because otherwise he's a real threat to the Middle East. But we don't have to do it now, and we shouldn't do it alone, even with [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair."
After retiring to Pinehurst, Toon remained active, pursuing his passions of golf and traveling. He even came out of retirement at the requests of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to chair the American delegation to the joint U.S.-Russian Commission on POWs and MIAs.
Toon will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with his wife, Betty, who died in 1996.
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