The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Farewell to a Family Friend

June 7, 2005

Gordon Tiger, a long-time friend of my family, died last Tuesday. Gordon had a distinguished career in the foreign service, yet he never sought the limelight or attention his expertise and experience could have brought him. The Washington Post ran his obituary today.

M. Gordon Tiger, 87, a retired Foreign Service officer, died May 31 of lung cancer at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Tiger was born in St. Louis. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in the late 1930s and a master’s degree from Columbia University journalism school in 1939. During World War II, he served with the U.S. Naval Reserve, first as a gunnery officer on merchant vessels and later as an anti-submarine officer on a destroyer escort.

While in the Navy, he studied Russian at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He joined the State Department as an analyst of the economic intelligence that was coming out of what was then the Soviet Union. In 1957, he transferred to the Foreign Service. He served in Tehran from 1958 to 1962, in New Delhi from 1965 to 1969 and as consul general to Karachi, Pakistan, from 1972 to 1975.

After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1976, he studied landscape design and worked for himself in that field for several years. While in India, he cultivated roses, and in Alexandria, he raised flowers, fruits and vegetables in a garden he meticulously designed. He volunteered at the U.S. National Arboretum, where he helped catalogue plants.

Music also was an integral part of Mr. Tiger’s life. He was an accomplished pianist, an opera lover, treasurer for the Washington International Music Competition and a member of the Friday Morning Music Club in the District.

He was a volunteer adviser on health insurance and other matters involving older people in Fairfax and Arlington counties and a former member of the board of the United Seniors Health Cooperative. He also was a member of Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria and of Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Marion Lipsis Tiger of Alexandria; two daughters, Rebecca Gregson of Fredericksburg and Judith Tiger of Washington; and two grandsons.

When my wife and I moved back to Washington, we had the privilege of spending time with Gordon and Marion. He was a wonderful, kind man. He was always willing to humor us with stories from his years abroad. I learned a great deal from him in the short time we got spend to with him over the last few years.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.