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Warren Christopher, Former Secretary of State, Dies at 85

Longtime Padaro Beach resident had a distinguished career in law, public service

Warren Christopher, a longtime Carpinteria resident who served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, died Friday at his Los Angeles home. He was 85.

Warren Christopher
Warren Christopher

A spokeswoman for O’Melveny & Myers, the Los Angeles law firm where Christopher was a senior partner, said he died of complications from bladder and kidney cancer.

Christopher and his wife, Marie, have owned a beach house on the east end of Padaro Lane since the early 1980s, and they spent weekends and vacations there as often as they could. They were in residence when Clinton, then president-elect in 1992, spent a few days with his longtime friends, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason, at their own Padaro Lane home.

Christopher was sworn in as the 63rd secretary of state in January 1993. He served in the position during Clinton’s first term, but resigned in January 1997 to rejoin O’Melveny & Myers.

Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mourned Christopher’s passing Saturday.

“Warren was a diplomat’s diplomat — talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “As well as anyone in his generation, he understood the subtle interplay of national interests, fundamental values and personal dynamics that drive diplomacy. Along with the late Richard Holbrooke, Warren led the effort to bring peace to the Balkans in the 1990s. Over his long career in public service, he also helped establish diplomatic relations with China, oversaw the expansion of NATO, worked tirelessly for peace in the Middle East, and championed human rights around the world.

“America is safer and the world is more peaceful because of his service.”

Prior to his time as head of the State Department, Christopher was no stranger to politics or to diplomacy.

In the 1960s, he served as a deputy attorney general for President Lyndon B. Johnson. From 1977 to 1981, he served as President Jimmy Carter’s deputy secretary of state.

In 1991, he chaired the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, otherwise known as the Christopher Commission, which proposed — and earned voter-approval of — significant LAPD reforms in the wake of the Rodney King beating incident.

After Clinton won the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination, Christopher headed the search for his running mate, which resulted in the selection of Sen. Al Gore. Christopher later served as director of Clinton’s transition team after the election.

In between periods of public service, Christopher was a longtime partner at O’Melveny & Myers. He first joined the firm in 1950 and was made a partner in 1958.

Christopher was born in Scranton, N.D., on Oct. 27, 1925. He was a Navy ensign in the Pacific Theater in 1945, the same year he graduated from USC. He attended Stanford Law School and later clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

Christopher is survived by his wife, Marie; their three children, Scott, Thomas and Kristen; a daughter from his first marriage, Lynn Collins; and five grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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