[Congressional Record Volume 142, Number 74 (Thursday, May 23, 1996)]
[Pages S5558-S5562]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      TRIBUTE TO CHARLES MEISSNER

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, the tragic plane crash in Croatia last 
month that took the life of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown also took 
the lives of other outstanding officials in the Department of Commerce, 
including Charles F. Meissner, who was Assistant Secretary for 
International Economic Policy and who was also the husband of Doris 
Meissner, the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service. During the 1970's, he had served with great distinction for 
several years on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  Our hearts go out to the Meissner family in this time of their great 
loss. In the days following that tragedy, a number of eloquent tributes 
to Charles Meissner described his extraordinary career, his dedication 
to public service, and his contributions to our country and to peoples 
throughout the world. I believe these tributes will be of interest to 
all of us in Congress and to many others, and I ask unanimous consent 
that they be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the tributes were ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                      Tribute to Charles Meissner

                        (By Stuart E. Eizenstat)

       Doris, Christine, Andrew, family and friends of Chuck 
     Meissner. I feel doubly blessed by my association with the 
     Meissner family. In the Carter Administration it was my good 
     fortune to work closely with Doris on immigration issues--to 
     see directly her intelligence, her calm amidst the pressures 
     of policymaking, her quiet dignity, her dedication to public 
     service. It was then that I first came in contact with Chuck.
       But it was during the past 2\1/2\ years, with me in 
     Brussels and Chuck in Washington, that we formed an intense 
     professional and personal bond which profoundly influenced 
     me. We worked together on every important trade and 
     commercial issue involving the European Union and its member 
       During Chuck's frequent travels to Brussels, he stayed with 
     Fran and me, and had many meals with us. Chuck and I attended 
     innumerable meetings together. When my appointment to my 
     current position at Commerce became known, I spent a great 
     deal of time talking and meeting with Chuck, seeking his 
     advice and counsel and telling him of my plans to beef-up the 
     International Economic Policy unit he so ably led. Our last 
     conversation came only a few days before his trip to Bosnia 
     and Croatia.
       During Chuck's all-too-brief tenure as Assistant Secretary, 
     there was hardly a continent that did not benefit from 
     Chuck's sterling efforts. Chuck used his extensive financial 
     experience at Chemical Bank and the World Bank to encourage 
     private sector investment in the border regions in Mexico, as 
     chair of the U.S.-Mexico Border Economic Development task 
     force. He helped to expand economic contacts between the West 
     and Central Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union 
     by his work to invigorate the Economic Forum of the 
     Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and by 
     the drive and leadership he gave to the West-East Economic 
       Chuck was inspiring in his work with large and small 
     American companies. He had a flair for dealing with CEOs. 
     They empathized with him and understood his global vision. 
     Nowhere was this better exemplified than in the Transatlantic 
     Business Dialogue. Secretary Brown initiated the idea that 
     U.S. and European business should take the lead in helping 
     government design future transatlantic commercial policy. But 
     it was Chuck that made this idea work. The success of the 
     historic conference in Seville, Spain, last November that 
     brought a 100 leading American and European CEOs together 
     was due in large part to Chuck.
       Following on his deep conviction that trade was the best 
     force for peace, Chuck used his boundless energy to bring 
     American companies together with companies in emerging 
     democracies and in reforming countries. He was the leading 
     force behind President Clinton's White House Conference on 
     trade and investment in Eastern Europe, held in Cleveland 
     last year. That conference exposed America's top companies to 
     the genuine opportunities to build commercial bridges to 
     Central Europe.
       He poured his heart into using commercial policy to support 
     the peace process in Northern Ireland. He was particularly 
     proud, and justly so, of bringing scores of companies there 
     to support our efforts and those of the British government to 
     bring peace to that troubled land. When peace finally comes 
     to Northern Ireland, as it surely will, Chuck Meissner will 
     have played a major role in being a midwife. He was just 
     beginning to do the same in Haiti.
       It was on another such venture to undergird a fragile 
     peace, that took Chuck and Ron Brown to Croatia and Bosnia. 
     He died doing what he loved, using the resources of the 
     American private sector to strengthen the forces of peace and 
     democracy abroad. The terrible conflict in Bosnia has now 
     claimed several friends, earlier Bob Frasure, and now Chuck, 
     Ron and our other colleagues at the Commerce Department.
       Chuck maintained a punishing travel schedule, as he was 
     driven to extend our commercial diplomacy round the world. He 
     joked to me that he only saw Doris, with her own demanding 
     schedule, as their planes criss-crossed in the sky! And 
     Doris, his love for you and the children was evident in the 
     fond ways in which he talked about you.
       But all of this was a continuation of a life devoted to 
     public service, with a particular emphasis on expanding 
     America's economic relationships abroad, relationships which 
     are the very essence of our efforts to expand democracy and 
     prosperity around the globe. He served in senior positions in 
     the Treasury Department, on the Senate Foreign Relations 
     Committee, where he was Staff Director of the Subcommittee on 
     Foreign Relations, and in the State Department where he was 
     Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Finance and 
     Development and Ambassador and U.S. Special Negotiator for 
     Economic Matters. Chuck's service to the United States was 
     not limited to civilian positions. He was a Vietnam veteran, 
     decorated on several occasions for his bravery in combat as a 
     Captain in the United States Army.
       But will all of these accomplishments, I will most remember 
     Chuck with genuine love and affection for something more 
     personal. Few people have touched me the way Chuck did. He 
     had a wonderful joy of life and sense of humor. He made me 
     laugh--not always easy to do! When I told Doris at her home 
     Friday about this, she said, ``You

[[Page S5559]]

     know, one of the reasons I married Chuck was that he made me 
     laugh too!''
       When Chuck came into a room his radiance lit it up. That 
     beautiful smile and almost cherubic face--like a grown-up 
     version of one of Raphael's endearing child angels--never 
     failed to touch me deeply and to the core. I was drawn to 
     Chuck, as I know all of you were, by not only his obvious 
     competence but by his basic decency, his goodness, his 
     wonderful humanity. Chuck believed in causes but he never 
     forgot the people who were to benefit from them.
       Just as we all feel blessed by Chuck's friendship, and by 
     his caring, all of us also feel, in our own way, cheated by 
     his tragic death--for myself, deprived of an opportunity to 
     work even closer together on the causes he so believed in, 
     deprived of more time to nurture our friendship, deprived of 
     the chance to simply feel so good in his presence.
       But all of this pales in comparison to the loss for Doris 
     and the children of a husband, a father, a companion. There 
     is an old saying, that ``men and women plan, but God laughs 
     at our plans and has his own for us.'' None of us can 
     possibly explain this tragedy. All one can say is that God on 
     High must have been particularly lonely and needed Chuck's 
     companionship and laughter; as those who knew him on this 
     imperfect earth so reveled in it.
       Chuck, we loved you as you loved us. Our memories are sweet 
     as the fragrances of Spring will surely come. They did not 
     die with you. All of your friends will always be the better 
     for you having come into our lives with your wonderful 
       Doris, we hope that our prayers and the heartfelt feelings 
     of your colleagues in the Justice Department, the Commerce 
     Department and throughout the Administration will strengthen 
     you in these dark and difficult days, and will sustain you as 
     you continue to service the country so well for which Chuck 
     gave his life.

                    Reflections on Charles Meissner

                            (By Michael Ely)

       Today it is my honor briefly to talk to you about Charles 
     Meissner and the central theme of his working life, service 
     to his government and, more broadly, service to his nation 
     and to the world. Chuck might have been embarrassed by this 
     discussion. His sense of personal responsibility and 
     commitment was so deep and integrated into his life that it 
     became part of his personality. It went right down to his 
     toenails. He felt that devotion to the public good was normal 
     and natural behavior, even if not widely shared in a world 
     full of people in futile pursuit of private gain and 
     satisfaction outside of and divorced from the public good.
       Indeed, his concept of the good was universal, comparable 
     to what we might think of as the inner vision of a saint, but 
     tempered by years of experience in addressing complex issues 
     of public policy where the path to the good is unmarked and 
     has to be discovered or even created. Here was an area that 
     must have drawn Doris and Chuck together: their willingness, 
     even eagerness, to grapple with policy issues with difficult 
     tradeoffs, no easy solutions and multiple painful outcomes. 
     Chuck sought to reconcile commercial affairs with broader 
     national interests; Doris deals with the terrible tensions 
     between social decency and justice and conflicting economic 
     and social problems.
       Our paths first came together in the State Department 
     almost two decades ago. From a senior staff position with the 
     Senate Foreign Relations Committee he had been parachuted in, 
     as it were, as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of 
     Economic Affairs, then a powerful and aggressive organization 
     with entirely State personnel. Chuck used to joke, with some 
     reason, that I was brought in as his principal deputy to keep 
     an eye on him. We ended up mentoring each other, he with his 
     broad Treasury and Senate background, I a decade older with 
     depth in overseas diplomatic service and State bureaucratic 
     background. Our relations, warmed by Chuck's openness, 
     honesty and obvious ability, deepened into mutual trust and 
     ripened into friendship.
       It was in retrospect an exciting and creative period. In 
     the wake of the first oil shock and the world economic 
     slowdown many countries in Latin America, Africa and eastern 
     Europe could not repay to the US hundreds of millions in 
     official debts contracted in better times. It was Chuck's 
     labor of Hercules to sort out the economic implications and 
     the sticky foreign and domestic politics to come up with a 
     set of US government responses. A thankless business--he 
     specialized, like Doris, in thankless tasks--with infinite 
     opportunity for offending the Congress, the Treasury, the 
     debtor countries and the other creditors.
       It was in this thicket of problems that he encountered 
     Michel Camdessus, then a very senior officer of the French 
     Treasury, and like him an official of extraordinary breadth 
     and ability. Their initial adversarial relations were 
     transformed by mutual appreciation into a partnership that 
     defined the rules for handling sovereign debt, and lived on 
     through the years that followed.
       The dozen years Chuck spent sorting out the debt problems 
     of the Chemical Bank and experiencing the institutional 
     culture of the World Bank were stepping stones to his policy 
     position in Commerce; all of us confidently expected his star 
     to mount in the coming years, the years that have been taken 
     from him.
       As a negotiator he was matchless. He won, of all things, by 
     being straight! To begin with, Chuck was deeply uninterested 
     in the social luxuries of diplomatic life (I finally got him 
     to recognize the difference between red and white wines) and 
     skipped the cocktail parties unless he had a diplomatic chore 
     to do there. For another, he neither bluffed nor threatened, 
     nor did he respond to such tactics; while he could sense the 
     hidden agenda of his adversary, he had none of his own; and 
     his attention never wavered nor temper flared. His physical 
     vitality and a Churchillian ability to snatch catnaps 
     equipped him to outlast the most tenacious adversary. And his 
     patience had no end.
       This perhaps gives one insight into the secret of Chuck's 
     consistent success as a public servant: a unmatched 
     combination of selflessness, honesty, self control, and 
     hunger for the public good that set him apart and armored him 
     against any accusations of personal advantage. All this was 
     matched by easy good humor, modesty, natural courtesy and a 
     radiant smile that made this man, in some respects really 
     most formidable, one of the least threatening I have ever 
     known. The biggest occupational hazard of diplomacy is vanity 
     and it increases with rank. Chuck's ambassadorial title, 
     conferred to increase his negotiating prestige, never 
     impressed him; he laughingly liked to suggest he be called 
     Ambassador Chuck.
       Yet he was a true intellectual--he would not have liked the 
     term--with an original, searching mind that looked so broadly 
     and deeply as to go quite beyond the reach of most of us. 
     Because of this he was, I think, sometimes quite alone--very 
     few could stay with him at the vertiginous level of 
     conceptualization that he felt was--is--urgently needed to 
     think out tough problems. It was to help in this endeavor 
     that he asked me to join him as an advisor.
       In particular, Chuck was convinced that the age calls for 
     new and creative ways to use the dynamism and power of the 
     American private sector as an instrument for peace, stability 
     and democracy. In his two years at Commerce he wrestled with 
     the challenge of integrating foreign commercial policy with 
     its materially-driven bottom-line goals with broader foreign 
     policy to find how they could be used to energize and 
     reinforce each other. The breakthroughs for reconciliation in 
     Ireland, which Chuck created almost single handedly, were 
     propelled by his vision of economic growth and development 
     based on cooperative measures to induce private investment by 
     American enterprises.
       Underlying all of his endeavors--his efforts in Ireland, 
     his attempts to strengthen the Organization for Security and 
     Cooperation in Europe, his approach to the problems of the 
     big emerging markets--was a great long-term vision. He 
     believed that the essential task of the post-Cold War era was 
     to structure incentives and institutions for bringing all the 
     Russias, Chinas and Bosnias--all the reforming and emerging 
     countries--into the world economic order. Chuck dreamed of a 
     world of peace, stability and democracy built upon 
     irreversible global interdependence: all nations would have 
     more to gain by cooperating, by participating in an open 
     world system based on the rule of law, than by resort to 
     traditional unilateral attempts to seek advantage. He saw the 
     vast American commercial structure as a central instrument in 
     this great scheme.
       He was working on how to articulate this broad concept into 
     a series of strategies when he was taken from us.
       A week ago Stuart Eizenstat led a gathering of Commerce 
     employees in reflection on the loss of Chuck and his 
     colleagues. In that moving ceremony one of the respondents 
     from the audience declared that the finest memorial for the 
     perished would be to continue to work toward the goals they 
     believed in. So be it with Charles Meissner, visionary, 
     public servant, man of honor--and husband, father and friend. 
     His memory will strengthen and sustain us as we continue his 
     gallant search.

                   The Honorable Charles F. Meissner

       Charles Meissner was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary 
     for International Economic Policy at the Department of 
     Commerce on April 4, 1994 following confirmation by the 
     United States Senate. As Assistant Secretary, Mr. Meissner 
     was responsible for international commercial policy 
     development, including country and regional market access 
     strategies, multilateral and bilateral trade issues, and 
     policy support of Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown on 
     international issues.
       Since 1992, Mr. Meissner had served at the World Bank as 
     manager of the Office of Official Co-financing and Trust Fund 
     Management. Mr. Meissner was responsible for maintaining the 
     Bank's financial relationships with official co-financiers 
     who co-finance approximately $10 billion in projects annually 
     with the World Bank.
       Previously, Mr. Meissner served as Vice President at 
     Chemical Bank where he coordinated sovereign debt 
     restructuring policy within the bank and represented Chemical 
     in negotiations with debtor countries.
       In 1980, Mr. Meissner was appointed Ambassador and U.S. 
     Special Negotiator for Economic Matters. Mr. Meissner has 
     also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International 
     Finance and Development in the Bureau of Economic and 
     Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
       In 1973, he accepted a professional staff appointment to 
     the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate where 
     he served as

[[Page S5560]]

     an economist. In his final year with the committee, he also 
     served as staff director to the Subcommittee on Foreign 
     Assistance. He began his career in 1971 at the U.S. 
     Department of Treasury in the Office of International Affairs 
     where he worked as the Japan desk officer and as special 
     assistant to the Assistant Secretary for International 
       A native of Wisconsin, Mr. Meissner is a three-time 
     graduate of the University of Wisconsin, including a BS in 
     1964, an MS in Economics in 1967, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural 
     Economics with a minor in Latin American Studies in 1969. He 
     served in the Vietnam War as a Captain in the United States 
     Army during 1969 and 1970 and received for his service the 
     Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal 
     and the Bronze Star.
       Doris and Chuck met during their freshman year at the 
     University of Wisconsin and were married in 1963. They have 
     two children, Christine, 31, and Andrew, 27.

  Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. President, I rise with my colleague from 
Massachusetts to mourn the loss of Charles F. Meissner, the Assistant 
Secretary for International Economic Policy at the Commerce Department. 
He was a man who devoted his life to furthering America's economic 
strength; our Nation is the better for his service.
  His close friends--leaders from the public and private sector--have 
eulogized Chuck Meissner more ably than I could ever hope to do. I want 
to share their moving statements with my colleagues and with others of 
our Nation, so all Americans may know and understand how deeply America 
misses his service and his leadership. I ask unanimous consent that 
these tributes to the life and accomplishments of Chuck Meissner be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the tributes were ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                      Tribute to Charles Meissner

                         (By Michel Camdessus)

       Having had the privilege for 18 years to be one of the 
     innumerable colleagues and friends of Chuck Meissner in the 
     international community, let me try to tell you what sort of 
     man he was for all of us.
       Let me tell you first how we became friends, something, I 
     must say, which changed my life.
       When I first met Chuck in 1978, he was the highly respected 
     and seasoned head of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Club--
     this group of industrialized countries dealing with the 
     payment difficulties of the debtor countries--and I its newly 
     appointed and totally unprepared Chairman. It was there, as 
     Chuck tactfully guided me through the intricacies of 
     developing country debt, that I first came to know the fine 
     qualities that we all admired so much in him.
       I must say, from the first he impressed me very much. He 
     was one of those people whose mere presence transformed a 
     group's life, focusing its purposes, adding to its 
     creativity, making it congenial and enthusiastic. What was 
     the secret of this? Was it his charm, his persuasiveness, his 
     distinction and natural nobleness, sense of humor, the fun he 
     found in working, his selfishness, his own sense of purpose 
     and dedication? All of these things, and more! The fact that 
     behind the opposite member at the negotiating table he saw a 
     person, and behind the problems, people; men, women, 
     children, whose opinion had to be sought given their 
     responsibility for their own destinies, people whose 
     suffering had to be alleviated, people who had to be given a 
     new chance . . . And more again, but you had to know him well 
     to perceive this and to be prepared to read it in his eyes, 
     his smile, his jokes, or in his silences, the extraordinary 
     way in which love was the unifying factor of his life. He 
     loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved his country, 
     the values of his country and to work for them, knowing 
     pretty well since his experience in Vietnam that this could 
     imply the ultimate sacrifice. Let me mention a few of these 
     values: the sense of responsibility for leading the way 
     toward a better world, confidence that it is always 
     worthwhile to help people stand again on their feet, to work 
     with them to build peace through solidarity. I said 
     solidarity; perhaps the proper word should be brotherhood 
     throughout the world ``from sea to shining seas.'' This was, 
     I think the professional secret of Chuck, the fact that in 
     one way or another, even in the most adverse situations, he 
     was always giving something of himself, putting his mind and 
     heart into achieving a better agreement, in finding a more 
     constructive solution.
       I witnessed this many, many times, as the debt crises 
     multiplied the clients of the Paris Club, making Chuck a 
     regular customer on the transatlantic flights between 
     Washington and Paris. Let me tell you that I particularly 
     admired him on the occasion of an UNCTAD meeting in Manila 
     where, leading the American delegation, his role was decisive 
     in transforming an occasion which could have been 
     confrontational and rhetorical into an opportunity for 
     solidly laying down the basic principles (the so-called 
     ``features'') which since then have governed public 
     debt rescheduling operations. This could seem somewhat 
     esoteric to you, but if I tell you that since then, on the 
     basis of these principles, more than 250 billion dollars 
     of public debt has been generously rescheduled * * * and 
     65 countries have been given a new chance, you will have 
     some idea of the contribution Chuck made in making the 
     world a better place. No more of this.
       In the days since that terrible tragedy on the hillside 
     outside Dubrovnik, Chuck's many friends, colleagues and 
     admirers around the world have recounted the many other 
     instances in which Chuck tried to make a difference--and 
     succeeded. In Belfast, where he had traveled many times to 
     assist in building economic bridges across the political 
     divide, and where, as I read in a message from the West 
     Belfast Economic Forum director: The community activists 
     working towards economic and social regeneration in West 
     Belfast came to know Charles Meissner. It was, however, to 
     Chuck Meissner's own credit as an individual, that we came to 
     also regard him as a friend. Over the past two years, Charles 
     Meissner returned to West Belfast on several occasions. 
     Always, he ensured that grassroots activists from the 
     disadvantaged communities were consulted and kept informed. 
     He understood that if there was to be a ``Peace Dividend'' 
     then any economic intervention from the USA must be targeted 
     specifically as those communities which have suffered most 
     from exclusion and marginalisation. Chuck recognised that 
     more than straightforward economic investment is required to 
     bring about economic regeneration. He valued the work of the 
     community organizations and the opinions of those with 
     firsthand experience of dealing with the problems in our 
     community. Chuck gave freely of his own time and expertise 
     and encouraged others, both within his department and among 
     the American business community to support locally based 
     economic initiatives.
       Chuck's action was similar at the US-Mexican border, where 
     he worked to improve the economic and environmental 
     conditions. And most recently, in Bosnia where Chuck was 
     seeking to secure a fragile peace with the promise of a 
     better future through economic development and trade. Suffice 
     it here for me to quote his last declaration in Bosnia, I 
     quote the wire agencies:
       `` `We want to build confidence in investing and 
     reestablish the internal confidence' between the Serbs, 
     Croats and Muslims, said Charles Meissner, assistant 
     secretary of commerce for international economic policy.
       ``Development `gives a common ground that you re-establish 
     economically, developing the basis for interdependency,' he 
       This was Chuck, my friends, this is Chuck: a great man, a 
     great friend, a great American, a great builder of peace, one 
     of those ``God will call his children'' (Mat. 5-9), one of 
     those who can tell the Lord with a joyful assurance ``your 
     house will be my home.'' (Ps. 23).

                Memorial Service for Charles F. Meissner

                             (By Ted Crabb)

       I came to know Chuck Meissner in the early '60's when I was 
     working, as I still do, at the Wisconsin Union, the student-
     led community center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
     Like his brother David, Chuck came to the Union not only to 
     take part in the social, cultural and recreational activities 
     the Union provided, but to help plan, develop and promote 
     those activities.
       It tells you something about Chuck Meissner that in 
     choosing to become active at the Union as a student, he was 
     not deterred by the fact that his older brother had already 
     made his mark there, first as a committee chair and then as 
     president of the Union's student-faculty-alumni governing 
     board. Another person, less comfortable with himself, might 
     have chosen a different activity, or even a different college 
     in the first place. Not Chuck. If the Union was the place to 
     mix with students of diverse backgrounds, to meet informally 
     with professors, to debate the issues of the day, to 
     encounter new and provocative ideas, to get involved, then 
     that's where Chuck wanted to be.
       It may have been at the Union that Chuck learned the 
     patience that would enable him to cope with the vagaries and 
     uncertainties of government service. Two years in a row, 
     Chuck was responsible for a lecture to be given by Werner von 
     Braun. Two years in a row, he made posters, distributed 
     notices to university classes, made arrangements for a 
     special dinner for the honored guest, even produced little 
     table tents resplendent with glittering rocket ships. Two 
     years in a row, von Braun canceled his appearance at the last 
       Certainly, Chuck learned at the Union how to deal with 
     dashed hopes. In his senior year, he was a candidate for 
     president of the Union but lost out to his good friend, Carol 
     Skornicka. It tells you something about Chuck that this 
     defeat was no permanent setback to their lifelong friendship.
       Chuck left the university after he finished his graduate 
     work in Agricultural Economics, but he retained his interest 
     in the university and in the Wisconsin Union. For the last 
     eleven years, he served in an advisory role to the Union, 
     most recently as a member of the board of trustees of the 
     building association. In that role, he was the kind of board 
     member that a president or director both loves and fears.
       Chuck didn't just attend meetings. He engaged himself in 
     them totally, asking tough questions, goading everyone to 
     more effort. And when he left the annual meeting after an 
     intense day and a half session, I knew that within a few 
     days, I'd get a letter from him. It wouldn't be one of those 

[[Page S5561]]

     ``Thank you very much, you're doing a great job and enclosed 
     are my expenses'' letter. No. It would be two or three 
     single-spaced, tightly packed pages of ideas for the future 
     and suggestions for implementation. ``What is the Union 
     doing to prepare for a decline in funding when 
     undergraduate enrollment is cut back? What can you learn 
     and put into practice from the recent Carnegie Foundation 
     report on higher education? What is the Union doing to 
     serve the community in continuing education and to broaden 
     the life experiences of students?''
       In one letter in 1990, Chuck focused on the role and image 
     of Union South, a second Union building, located on the 
     Engineering Campus and long seen by some as a sort of 
     afterthought, or as Chuck called it, ``the second child who 
     has to share his parents' love and always perform up to the 
     older sibling's standards.'' Chuck had a dozen different 
     ideas for upgrading its image, including the possible 
     rededication of the building to honor those who have promoted 
     civil and human rights in Wisconsin as a means of promoting 
     greater campus community feeling in the cause of a shared 
     heritage among blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and Native 
     Americans on campus.
       At the 1991 meeting of the trustees, Chuck proposed the 
     establishment of a permanent endowment for the Union 
     trustees, to provide a stable source of funding for the 
     programming efforts of the Union and the upkeep and 
     renovation of the physical structures. He followed up his 
     suggestion with a three-page draft of a funding statement 
     that the board of trustees adopted at its next meeting, with 
     almost no changes, and which it has since implemented.
       All directors of organizations should have members like 
     Chuck to prod and nudge.
       The Wisconsin Union is a tiny entity in the world that 
     Chuck occupied. It tells you a lot about Chuck Meissner that 
     he gave it the same kind of focused attention he gave to the 
     global issues that made up his work day. Just last fall, he 
     was calling to ask me to send him information about the 
     Wisconsin Union that he could take to a person he'd met on a 
     trade mission, who was trying to build a campus community 
     center at his own college in Ireland.
       The goals and the purpose of the Wisconsin Union as a 
     unifying force in a diverse community were not just words to 
     Chuck. He believed in the worth of student volunteer 
     activities. He never wavered from the view that the Union's 
     primary mission was to provide opportunities for volunteering 
     and to help students develop the skills that would make them 
     effective volunteers and contributors to their communities--
     to become persons who were concerned not just with getting 
     something out of life but with putting something into life. 
     Chuck had great faith in students. He believed there was 
     little they could not accomplish if given the opportunity. 
     His constant question was, ``What is the student role in this 
     program or this function?''
       To those of us who worked with Chuck at the Union, it was 
     no surprise that his last effort would be leading a group of 
     volunteer business leaders to Bosnia. Again, he had persuaded 
     others to apply their skills and talents to doing a job that 
     needed to be done. The scope of the job was mammoth: 
     beginning the healing of the unimaginable wounds of a civil 
     war and the rebuilding and revitalizing of an entire society. 
     But Chuck had seen that there was a role to be played by 
     volunteers who were willing to put their unique talents 
     and resources to work to help their larger community. As 
     he had done throughout his life, he was putting into 
     practice the Union ideal that the foundation of democracy 
     is the individual efforts of citizens, working together to 
     solve their common problems.
       Many people say that heroism has vanished from America. We 
     in this audience know better. We know that Chuck Meissner was 
     a hero. Not only because he gave his life for his country or 
     because he took great risks in the service of his country or 
     flew dozens of hazardous and uncomfortable flights to remote 
     places, all of which he did, but also because he lived the 
     values to which many people give lip service. He honored his 
     commitments. He gave generously of himself, not for self-
     aggrandizement or private fortune but for the worth of the 
     undertaking. He did what he did because it was the right 
     thing to do. And in the end he left the world a better place 
     for his having been here.
       We think of Chuck and we remember that broad smile, that 
     gentle spirit, the way he could walk into a room of strangers 
     and put everyone at ease, his enjoyment of the rich and 
     varied experiences his jobs offered him, and that sense of 
     irony that helped him maintain his perspective in the heady 
     and unreal world of Washington politics. We think of the love 
     and pride that were so evident whenever Chuck talked about 
     Chris and Andrew. We think of his marriage to Doris: a 
     marriage in which each partner provided the ballast that 
     allowed the other to soar. And when we think of all these 
     things we can only be grateful that we knew Chuck and that he 
     was our friend.

               [From the National Journal, Apr. 13, 1996]

                       Here Was a Public Servant

                           (By Ben Wildavsky)

       The way a friend of Charles F. Meissner's tells the story, 
     Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown was once leading an 
     American delegation to Bonn when high-profile diplomat 
     Richard C. Holbrooke joined him in the head car of the U.S. 
     motorcade. Not long after the vehicles got under way, the 
     motorcade stopped. Holbrooke walked back to find Meissner in 
     another car and told him that Brown had requested that the 
     two of them trade places. ``I understand you're the guy who 
     tells him what to say before the meeting,'' Holbrooke told 
       Meissner, the assistant Commerce secretary for 
     international economic policy, was one of the best of that 
     unsung yet indispensable Washington class: the people who 
     tell other people what to say before the meeting. While he 
     was a distinguished international negotiator in his own 
     right, Meissner was fulfilling a key behind-the-scenes role 
     for Brown when he was killed in the April 3 plane crash that 
     took the lives of the Commerce Secretary and more than 30 
     other Americans.
       Those who knew Meissner say the 55-year-old international 
     economics expert showed by example what it means to live a 
     life of public service. ``He was a civil servant in the best 
     tradition of the European civil service, where it carries 
     much more prestige,'' said Jeffrey E. Garten, former Commerce 
     undersecretary for international trade and now dean of the 
     Yale School of Management. ``When I was nominated to go to 
     the Commerce Department, he was about the first person I went 
     to, to see if he would come with me.''
       With the new Clinton Administration eager to give the 
     Commerce Department an active role in combining commercial 
     and foreign policy, Meissner's extensive background in 
     government and in international banking was tailor-made for 
     the department's mission. ``Chuck had the ideal profile in 
     that he had worked in the State Department but he had all 
     this private-sector experience,'' Garten said. ``Most 
     importantly, he knew how to deal with the bureaucracy--and in 
     the State Department, he was known for being very, very tough 
     in pursuing his goals, It was kind of a joke that when he 
     headed toward Treasury, they all left their offices because 
     they didn't want to spend the next three days arguing with 
     him. He was extremely tenacious.''
       Charles William Maynes, editor of Foreign Policy magazine, 
     said Meissner deserves a share of the credit for the changed 
     role of the Commerce Department under Brown. In the 
     Administration's first three years, ``there was more foreign 
     policy coming out of the Commerce Department than any other 
     division,'' Maynes said. ``You can quarrel with it, but they 
     had a specific strategy and certain countries they targeted. 
     That is Chuck and Garten and Brown who did that--that's where 
     that came from.''
       A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he earned 
     a doctorate in economics, Meissner received the Bronze Star 
     for his Army service during the Vietnam war. He began his 
     Washington career at the Treasury Department in 1971. 
     Following a five-year stint as a Senate Foreign Relations 
     Committee economist, he joined the State Department as a 
     deputy assistant secretary and later gained ambassadorial 
     rank as the lead U.S. negotiator on international debt 
     rescheduling. Meissner spent nine years as a Chemical Bank 
     vice president, then moved to a senior World Bank post in 
     1992 before joining the Administration in April 1994. His 
     wife, Doris, became commissioner of the Immigration and 
     Naturalization Service in 1993.
       Meissner was known among colleagues and friends for an 
     engaging sense of humor and for his basic decency. In the 
     days after Meissner's death, a colleague spoke of the strong 
     interest he took in advancing the careers of the people who 
     worked for him. Another recalled the ``extraordinary''--and 
     successful--efforts Meissner made to help a Vietnamese woman 
     escape her country just before the fall of Saigon. Many 
     remembered his personal warmth.
       ``He was splendid in every aspect of his personal and 
     professional life,'' said Richard M. Moose, undersecretary of 
     State for management, who first met Meissner around 1970 at 
     the U.S. military headquarters in Vietnam. Moose was then a 
     staff member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Meissner 
     was an Army Intelligence officer. Meissner helped brief the 
     visiting Capitol Hill aides and impressed Moose right away. 
     ``He found a way not to go along with the convention of 
     misleading congressional delegations,'' Moose said. Later, 
     when Meissner went to the Foreign Relations Committee, the 
     two became partners, taking numerous trips together to 
     Vietnam and Cambodia. ``It was like a traveling seminar in 
     macroeconomics,'' Moose said. ``He was terribly good at 
     taking his knowledge of economic theory and applying it to 
     very practical kinds of situations.''
       Maynes said Meissner had a rare understanding of the real-
     world intersection of politics and economics. ``He was an 
     out-standing economist and a devoted public servant,'' Maynes 
     said. ``But the most notable thing about him was that he was 
     an excellent negotiator.'' He observed that Meissner's 
     negotiating skills were ``so extraordinary'' he was asked to 
     stay at State in the Reagan Administration even though he was 
     a Democrat.
       Other testimonials to Meissner's qualities abound. W. 
     Bowman Cutter, former deputy director of the National 
     Economic Council, said Meissner's high-level experience in 
     government and business made his judgment ``something you 
     could really rely on.'' Messiner ``obviously loved his work, 
     and he was good at it,'' said former Senate Majority Leader 
     George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, who

[[Page S5562]]

     worked side by side with Meissner in the U.S. effort to 
     promote economic development in Northern Ireland and called 
     him ``a good friend.''
       In the end, another friend said, Meissner stood out for his 
     love of substance. ``The higher you go in government, the 
     more you come in touch with sharks or political animals who 
     really aren't interested in policy but who want to do favors 
     for people on the Hill, or do what looks good in tomorrow's 
     press stories,'' said Ellen L. Frost, a former trade official 
     now with the Institute for International Economics in 
     Washington. ``And Chuck was never one of those. He cared 
     about sound policy.''