William R. Rivkin

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William Robert Rivkin
William Rivkin.jpg
Born (1919-04-16)April 16, 1919
Muscatine, Iowa
Died March 19, 1967(1967-03-19) (aged 47)
Nationality United States
Education B.A. University of Iowa
J.D. Northwestern University
Occupation diplomat
Known for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, Senegal, and Gambia
Spouse(s) Helen Enid Hammerman
Children Laura Rivkin Ledford
Julie Rivkin Wheeler
Robert S. Rivkin
Charles Rivkin
Family Cindy S. Moelis (daughter-in-law)
Joanne H. Alter (sister-in-law)

William Robert Rivkin (April 16, 1919 – March 19, 1967)[1] was a United States diplomat who served as ambassador to Luxembourg, Senegal, and Gambia in the 1960s.

Early life and education[edit]

William Rivkin was born in 1919, the first child of Samuel Wolf Rivkin, an immigrant from the Soviet Union who worked as a local tailor, and Florence Fryer, a British immigrant who had met Samuel in Muscatine, Iowa. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1941 and a law degree from Northwestern University in 1948. While at Iowa, he was the national intercollegiate oratorical champion. At Northwestern, he edited the Northwestern Law Review and finished first in his law class.

After graduation from Iowa, Ambassador Rivkin joined the United States Army where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star[2] and received the French l'ordre de la santé publique, rank of chevalier.

Government service[edit]

In 1956, Rivkin served as deputy director of Adlai E. Stevenson II's second Presidential campaign, and in 1960 was the Midwest coordinator of the Presidential Campaign of then-Senator John F. Kennedy.

He was a U.S. diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Luxembourg (1962-1965)[2] under President John F. Kennedy, and to Senegal (1966-1967)[2] and the Gambia (1966-1967)[2] under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Phi Beta Kappa.

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1959, Rivkin married Helen Enid Hammerman.[3][4] Helen's grandfather founded J.K. Industries in Chicago and her father, Sol Hammerman, and her Uncle Meyer Hammerman, grew it into one of the nation's largest children's clothing manufacturers at the time.[5] They remained married until his death in 1967. They had four children:

In 1971, Enid remarried to Dr. John Sterry Long and dedicated the rest of her life to humanitarian causes particularly focusing on the delivery of medical and food aid to distressed populations in remote regions of the world.[3]

Rivkin died in 1967. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.[2] The annual Rivkin award of the United States Foreign Service is presented in his honour.[3]


External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mercer Cook
United States Ambassador to the Gambia
Succeeded by
L. Dean Brown
Preceded by
Mercer Cook
United States Ambassador to Senegal
Succeeded by
L. Dean Brown
Preceded by
James Wine
United States Ambassador to Luxembourg
Succeeded by
Patricia Roberts Harris