R. Richard Rubottom Jr., who had a distinguished career in the foreign service and higher education, died in Austin, Texas, on Monday, Dec. 6, 2010, at the age of 98. His lengthy career included leadership positions with the U.S. Department of State, Southern Methodist University, University of the Americas and the City of Dallas.
Dick Rubottom was born in Brownwood, Texas, on Feb. 13, 1912. He earned B.S. and M.A. degrees from SMU in 1932 and 1933. After leaving SMU, he studied Latin American relations at the University of Texas while employed as an Assistant Dean of Students. It was in Austin that he met and married Billy Ruth Young of Corsicana, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941. With positions in Naval Intelligence at posts in Mexico and Paraguay, he rose to the rank of Commander in the Navy during World War II, serving until 1946.
Following his military service, Rubottom joined the U.S. Department of State, where he served until 1964. He held several State Department posts in Latin America and Spain. As a junior Foreign Service officer he attended the first meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Bogotá, Colombia, and later served as the Director of the Economic Mission in Madrid, Spain. He returned to Washington first as Deputy, then as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs from 1956-60 with responsibilities including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Argentina from 1960-61. He concluded his Foreign Service career at the rank of Career Minister as State Department adviser to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Following his career with the U.S. Department of State, Rubottom embarked on a second career in higher education at the age of 52. He returned to his alma mater, SMU, in 1964 as vice president for university life, later serving as administrative vice president and vice president for planning. In 1971 he left SMU to combine his interests in Latin America and higher education as president of the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. He returned to SMU in 1973 as a professor of political science and scholar-in-residence. He was named professor emeritus in 1975.
Even after his retirement from SMU, Rubottom remained active in diplomacy and civic responsibilities. In 1985 he was enlisted by the City of Dallas to serve as director of the Dallas Office of International Affairs, a post he held for two years. He was twice president of the Dallas Rotary Club, and served on the national and international boards of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a consistent presence as a lay leader and was a member of the Administrative Board of the Highland Park United Methodist Church, serving as President in 1992. He was on the Executive Committee and Educational Foundation Board of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Through the years, he gave lectures and classes on Latin American affairs in the United States, Latin America and Europe. He consulted with state officials and policymakers over several decades.
His honors include the Superior Service Award from the U.S. Department of State, Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the Order of Achievement award from Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award, H. Neil Mallon Award for Distinguished Civic Service from the Dallas Council on World Affairs and honorary doctorates from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, and Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri.
Ambassador Rubottom was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 69 years, Billy Ruth Young Rubottom. He is survived by his daughter, Eleanor Odden, (Allan), of Madison, Wisconsin; and sons Frank Richard Rubottom of Houston, Texas and John William Rubottom, (Angie), of Austin, Texas. He is also survived by granddaughter Sarina Odden Meyer, (Brett), and great grandson Micah; grandson Robert Allan Odden; grandson John W. “Jay” Rubottom, (Suzanna); and granddaughter, Taylor Elizabeth Rubottom.
Two gatherings to celebrate his life are scheduled: An informal reception will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010, at the Summit Lakeway Health Center, 1917 Lohman’s Crossing, Austin, TX 78734. A Memorial Service and reception will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2011, at the Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent in his name to support the Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship, Southern Methodist University (Development Office); Boy Scouts of America, Circle 10 Council, Dallas, Texas; Community Ministries, Highland Park United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas; Dallas Downtown Rotary Club; Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation, Indianapolis, Ind.
Arrangements by Weed-Corley-Fish Lake Travis, 411 Ranch Road 620 South, Lakeway, TX 78734 (512) 263-1511. Memorial guest book available online at www.wcfish.com.