Nicholas Rey, former US Ambassador to Poland, dies in Washington 15 January 2009

Nicholas Rey

Born in 1938 in Warsaw, Rey was a toddler when his parents fled their native Poland in 1939 just four days after German forces invaded Poland and began World War II. Rey’s parents, members of the Polish intelligentsia, were likely to become victims of the Nazi regime. The family was allowed to join a diplomatic convoy to Austria with permission from the US Ambassador at the time, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Jr.

Rey served as US Ambassador in Warsaw from December 21, 1993 to October 25, 1997.  He was here during the time when Poland, a former member of the Soviet bloc, was going through the transformation into a democratic country. Before his tenure in Warsaw, Rey was managing director at Bear, Stearns and Co. and Merrill Lynch and served as vice chairman and director of the Polish-American Enterprise Fund.  He was one of the founders of APAC, the American Polish Advisory Council, an organization lobbying for Poland, and worked closely with many prominent Polish-Americans including Edward Rowny and Mark Brzeziński. 

Rey spoke fluent Polish but said he didn’t feel a close connection with his home country until later in life. “The older I get, the more I feel like a true Pole,” Rey once said in an interview for Rzeczpospolita, quoted in their January 15 story: Poland’s American Friend Passed Away. Rey is survived by his wife, Lisa, a daughter, Cecilia, and two sons, Anthony, and Michael.

A memorial service will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown (Washington) on Friday, January 30, at 11 a.m.

A condolence book will be available in the American Embassy lobby (Al. Ujazdowskie 29/31) for signing on Friday, January 16, from 10:00 until 14:00.