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Charles T. "Chuck" Cross (May 4, 1922 – November 3, 2008) was an American career diplomat and ambassador who held many positions in American government around the world. He served as the U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong, 1974–77, and was the second United States Ambassador to Singapore, serving from 1969 to 1972. He served as the first Director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1979 to 1981, a position which required his retirement from the Foreign Service.[1] In his retirement he lectured at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Charles T. Cross
United States Ambassador to Singapore
In office
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byFrancis Joseph Galbraith
Succeeded byEdwin M. Cronk
Director of American Institute in Taiwan
In office
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded by(post created)
Succeeded byJames R. Lilley
Personal details
Born(1922-05-04)May 4, 1922
Beijing, China
DiedNovember 3, 2008(2008-11-03) (aged 86)
Seattle, Washington
Spouse(s)Shirley Cross
Alma materCarleton College (B.A.)
Yale University (M.A.)
Military service
Branch/serviceMarine Corps
Battles/warsWorld War II


Early life and military serviceEdit

Charles Cross was born in Beijing, China, to American missionaries. His mother opened China's first kindergarten in 1919, and his father taught philosophy at Yenching University.[2] Growing up in China, he was personally acquainted with Asian history at a time when most Americans are confined to headlines and history books; he was, for example, an eyewitness as a teenager to the brutal Japanese occupation of China.

Cross attended Carleton College from 1940 to 1942, at which point his college studies were interrupted when he joined the Marines during World War II. After one year at the Navy Japanese Language School at the University of Colorado, he was assigned to the 23rd Marines of the 4th Marine Division as an intelligence officer and Japanese Interpreter. He was with the 23rd for all the division’s landings: Roi/Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V on Saipan. After V-Day in 1945, he joined the First Marine Division in North China, going up to Beijing, thereby taking part in the liberation of his home from the Japanese. In January 1946 he married Shirley Foss of Faribault, MN, who supported him and their family through two more years at Carleton and a master's degree at Yale University.

Foreign Service careerEdit

Cross's career in the U.S. Foreign Service spanned thirty two years. He worked in: Taiwan; Indonesia; Hong Kong; Malaysia; Egypt; Cyprus; London; and also as Senior Civilian Deputy to Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force for Pacification Operations in I Corps’ in Danang; Ambassador to Singapore; Consul General in Hong Kong; and as the first Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. Scattered throughout these were assignments in the State Department in Washington, which included: Officer in Charge – Burma Affairs and Laos Affairs; National War College; Diplomat-in-Residence, U of Michigan; 1972 Policy Planning Staff; and Senior Foreign Service Inspector, 1978-79.

Post-Foreign ServiceEdit

After retiring from the Foreign Service, Cross came to Seattle in 1982 to teach at the Jackson School of International Studies and the History Department of the University of Washington, where he taught for ten years. His time in academia also included three voyages of the Semester-at-Sea Program of the University of Pittsburgh, and a quarter as Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College. While at the Jackson School, he created and taught a course called "Practicing American Foreign Policy", which has subsequently been taught by retired diplomats Ronald Woods and Darryl N. Johnson.[3] His memoir, Born a Foreigner-A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia,[4] was published in 1999. He served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Lingnan Foundation in New York, DACOR in Washington DC, and the Blakemore Foundation in Seattle.


  1. ^ "Born A Foreigner: A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia". William J. Dobson's review of Charles T. Cross's autobiography. Foreign Affairs Magazine. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  2. ^ Charles T. Cross, diplomat and UW teacher, Seattle Times, November 14, 2008
  3. ^ "National Security Advice--in 500 Words or Less". University of Washington Arts and Sciences Newsletter, Summer 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  4. ^ Charles T. Cross, Born A Foreigner: A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia (Boulder Colo.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999)
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Francis Joseph Galbraith (as Chargé d'Affaires)
United States Ambassador to Singapore
Succeeded by
Edwin M. Cronk
Government offices
Preceded by
Position established
Director of the American Institute in Taiwan
Succeeded by
James R. Lilley