Fargo native resigns post
A longtime Fargo lawyer turned U.S. ambassador to Belize has left the post after 3 1/2 years. Russ Freeman served as ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Belize City from September 2001 - taking office in the midst of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ...
A longtime Fargo lawyer turned U.S. ambassador to Belize has left the post after 3 1/2 years.
Russ Freeman served as ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Belize City from September 2001 - taking office in the midst of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - until April 7.
"I enjoyed my tour there very much," the 65-year-old Freeman said Monday. "It would be nice to let someone else have a tour, too."
He and his wife, Susie, 61, are spending the summer at their Pelican Lake, Minn., cottage while they figure out what's next.
An ambassador's tour of duty typically lasts about three years.
President Bush plans to nominate Robert Johann Dieter, a law professor and director of clinical programs at the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder, as the new ambassador.
Belize, about the size of Massachusetts, is important to the United States because of its location in Central America, Freeman said.
He applied for the post after Bush won his first term in office.
Freeman served as finance chairman in North Dakota for the first Bush campaign.
He had a connection to Bush through his brother, Bradford Freeman, a Los Angeles investment banker who headed Bush's California's California fundraising campaign.
Freeman was nominated by Bush in April 2001 and was in Belize that September.
"People said it was the best job a person could ever have, and they were right," he said.
He got along well with the Belize government and was adept at presenting policy and working with other diplomats, said Edgar Embrey, chief of the embassy's political-economic section in Belize.
Some members of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belize thought Freeman was the best ambassador since the country gained independence in 1981, Embrey said.
"He had a very fine sense of humor," Embrey said. "He was very popular here."
The Freemans plan to visit Belize in 2007, when a new $50 million embassy is dedicated in the capital city of Belmopan.
For now, they're getting settled here. They'll probably look for an apartment or condominium to replace the 1926 house on Fargo's Eighth Street South they sold while they were in Belize, Freeman said.
The lawyer of more than 30 years may do part-time work.
"We'll see what comes up in the fall."
Susie Freeman, who let her real estate license expire, said she doesn't know what she's going to do, either.
She called the last three years "an incredible experience," but said it was time to come home.
"I absolutely loved every minute - almost every minute - and I'm thrilled to pieces to be back," she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556