Brookfield East Class of 1977
Spartan alum Larry Richter will be retiring from the State Department this September after 32 years of service in a number of Embassies around the world.
Larry began his Elmbrook education at Cottage and Swanson Elementary (K-3) before continuing to Fairview South (4-6), Burleigh Junior High (7-9), and finally Brookfield East. During his time as a Spartan, Richter was on Cross Country and Wrestling teams, participated in Forensics, played tuba in the band, and was active in Elmbrook Church Youth Group and Boy Scouts. "I had many great teachers who genuinely cared about their students and their subjects, but my English teachers Tom Erickson and Carole Kossoris really imparted on me a love of literature," Larry reflected.
Following his 1977 graduation from East, he attended Wheaton College where he completed a double major in Philosophy and Biblical Studies in 1981. At Wheaton, Larry participated in intramural sports and clubs and a downtown tutoring program; helped build an orphanage in Cap Haitian; travelled to Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Italy; and completed an internship at Elmbrook Church. Larry intended to become either a missionary or minister and, inspired by his family's travels while growing up after college he joined World Relief and moved to Hong Kong to work in the closed camps with Vietnamese "Boat People" fleeing Vietnam. While working in the camps, Richter met several State Department Personnel who told him about the international work they do. He later moved to Alaska and then attended grad school in California before realizing his interests had changed, so he decided to take the Foreign Service exam. The chance to experience places around the globe was a huge pull for Richter and he began his career with the United States Department of State in February of 1988.
Of the five "cones" within the State Department (Political, Economic, Public Diplomacy, Consular, and Management), Larry chose Management where he oversees Embassy operations like housing, logistics, Human Resources, Financial Management, IT, Medical, and interacts with the Host Governments on taxation, real estate, emergency services, customs, and more. "Every Embassy is essentially a small town and the experience is different in each one - with some being much more complicated than others," stated Richter. "In Kabul, Afghanistan, for example, we run an airline and a fire department, produce all of our own power and water, and house and feed thousands of USG and contract employees every day in a very constrained security environment."
Each of Richter's tours in places as diverse as Japan, Zimbabwe, Armenia, Switzerland, England and more gave him and his family the opportunity to experience different cultures, and to even be part of several significant historical events. Some of Larry's most memorable experiences included supporting recovery of remains of WWII soldiers and airmen in Papua New Guinea for the US Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, and working and reestablishing operations in Rwanda (1991-1994) during and following that country's civil war. During his career, Larry has received the Department's Leamon Hunt Award for Management Excellence, Presidential Pay for Meritorious Service, International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) Leadership Award, and numerous Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.
Today, Larry is stationed in Kabul as the Management Minister Counselor, his wife Katherine is based in Virginia, and his two daughters Emily and Caroline, are in the midst of their Masters and Undergraduate studies respectively. "My family has been incredible in meeting the challenges of uprooting and reestablishing every 2-3 years, often in tough places, and they have taken full advantage of the amazing opportunities this life has offered," he said.
Larry will retire this September after 32 years of service and ten overseas tours, and took time to reflect on his founding education. "Brookfield was a great place to grow up with supportive families and institutions. I am not sure I realized at the time how fortunate I was to have that foundation as a launching pad," he said. "Having served on school boards of American and International schools in more than half a dozen countries, I have a much better understanding of just how difficult it is to deliver a quality education and realize how truly excellent the Elmbrook schools are."
Congratulations to Larry on his upcoming retirement and thank you for your service.
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