Ambassador David M. Abshire's Remarkable Life (1926-2014)

CSPC announces the passing of Ambassador David M. Abshire, CSPC Vice Chairman


October 31, 2014 – 9:30 a.m. EDT

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ambassador David M. Abshire, Vice Chairman of the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, at the age of 88.  He died peacefully in his sleep this morning surrounded by family.

Over the course of his nearly sixty years of service in Washington, Abshire worked tirelessly as an honest broker, bipartisan convener, and thought leader during some of Washington’s most complex political times. Author of seven books, he sought to promote civility during moments of great political turmoil through his writing and bipartisan dialogue that drew from both his strategic insights and his analysis of the lessons of history. He will be remembered as a trusted advisor for several of America’s preeminent government and private sector executives, and as a mentor to hundreds of students and young professionals aspiring to careers in public service.

Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, Chairman of the CSPC Board of Trustees said, “He was a leader in Washington like no other, and while his absence will be sorely felt by his friends and family, it will also be felt by the nation, which has benefited from his bipartisan and behind-the-scenes leadership.”

A graduate of the United States Military Academy (West Point), and a platoon leader during the Korean War—where he received the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster with V for Valor, Commendation Ribbon with medal pendant and Combat Infantry Badge—Abshire served the United States in numerous senior roles.

In Washington, Abshire served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations and as a cabinet level Special Counselor to the President. He was also a member of the Murphy Commission on the Organization of Government; the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board; and the President’s Task Force on U.S. Government International Broadcasting during the Iran-Contra affair. His time in Washington was intersected by a period spent in Brussels serving as the United States Ambassador to NATO during the height of the Cold War.

After his time in government, Abshire briefly worked at the American Enterprise Institute before co-founding the internationally acclaimed Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with Admiral Arleigh Burke, where he served as President & CEO.

Most recently, Abshire has served as Vice Chairman of the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC), which he led as its President & CEO from 1999 to 2012. Under his leadership and at the mandate of Congress, CSPC co-convened the 2006 Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, as well as the 2008 Afghanistan Study Group. Over the same period, Abshire also led the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, a grant making institution focused on science, education, and technology.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carolyn Sample Abshire; five children: Lupton Abshire, Anna Bowman, Mary Lee Jensvold, Phyllis D’Hoop, and Caroline Hall; and eleven grandchildren.

For further information please contact Hurst Renner at (202) 872-9800.