Tagged: embassy

The KISSINGER-RETTIE Telegram

Sounds like a diplomatic manoeuvre to provoke a war in some far flung corner of the world, no?

Whilst perusing the United States National Archives, I came across an interesting series of telegrams between the State Department in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala:

17 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7414

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

PLEASE INFORM NEXT-OF-KIN OF GEORGE WESTON RETTIE, BORN APRIL 4, 1908, AT CHICAGO, ILLINOIS OF DEATH OF SUBJECT
AT AMATITLAN GUATEMALA ON JULY 15, 1975 OF INFART OF
THE MYOCARDIUM. NEXT-OF-KIN ROBERT V. RETTIE, BROTHER,
910 E. PATTERSON ST., TAMPA, FLORIDA. BURIAL HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT LOCAL CEMETERY IN AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA WITHIN 24 HOURS AFTER DEATH AS REQUIRED BY GUATEMALAN LAW.

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03715, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

18 Jul 1975

FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE

SUBJECT: DEATH OF RETTIE

DEPARTMENT PREFERS NOT TO NOTIFY NOK OF DEATH TELEPHONICALLY EXCEPT IN EXTREME EMERGENCIES. DEPARTMENT REQUESTS THAT EMBASSY NOTIFY RETTIE’S BROTHER VIA DIRECT RELAY CABLE.

KISSINGER
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975STATE169531, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

18 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7438

FOR: ROBERT V. RETTIE
910 E. PATTERSON ST.,
TAMPA, FLORIDA

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

REGRET TO INFORM YOU OF DEATH YOUR BROTHER GEORGE WESTON RETTIE, AT AMATITLAN GUATEMALA ON JULY 15, 1975 OF INFART OF THE MYOCARDIUM. BURIAL HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT LOCAL CEMETERY IN AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA WITHIN 24 HOURS AFTER DEATH IS REQUIRED BY GUATEALAN LAW. DEATH REPORTED TO EMBASSY BY FRIEND ROBERT HOTCHKISS.

AMERICAN EMBASSY
GUATEMALA, GUATEMALA

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03751, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

So, U.S. citizen George Weston RETTIE dies in Guatemala on 15 Jul 1975 and his death is reported to the Embassy there by Robert HOTCHKISS. The Embassy sends a telegram asking the State Department in Washington to inform his next of kin Robert V. RETTIE. It seems that none other than Henry KISSINGER replies, abruptly telling the Embassy to do it themselves! [KISSINGER was U.S. Secretary of State from 22 Sep 1973 – 20 Jan 1977].

Then there is a further tragic news:

29 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7166

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

1. PLEASE INFORM MRS. KATHERINE HOTCHKISS, 2920 N.W. 18 AVENUE, APT. 11-B, MIAMI, FLORIDA OF DEATH OF SON ROBERT HOTCHKISS, WHO WAS DROWNED AT LAKE AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA JULY 28.

2. AS LOCAL AUTHORITIES REQUIRE PROMPT ARRANGEMENTS, FOLLOWING ESTIMATES ARE PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION AND PLANNING. PUBLIC HOSPITAL WILL BURY AT NO COST. PREPARATION AND AIR SHIPMENT TO U.S. $1250. CREMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE IN GUATEMALA. SHOULD TELEGRAPH FUNDS AND/OR INSTRUCTION TO DIRECTOR, SPECIAL CONSULAR SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON D.C. 20520. INCLUDE IN MESSAGE NAME AND ADDRESS OF FUNERAL HOME IN U.S. IF SHIPMENT DESIRED, MAKE TELEGRAPHIC MONEY ORDER PAYABLE TO DEPARTMENT OF STATE. IF SHIPMENT DESIRED, NOK MAY PREFER TO HAVE LOCAL FUNERAL HOME MAKE ALL ARRANGEMENTS IN CONFORMANCE WITH THIS MESSAGE. UPON RECEIPT OF REQUIRED FUNDS INSTRUCTION WILL BE CARRIED OUT AS PROMPTLY AS CIRCUMSTANCES PERMIT.

3. IN VISIT TO THIS EMBASSY LAST WEEK REGARDING REPORT OF DEATH FOR FRIEND GEORGE RETTIE, SUBJECT PRESENTED COPY HIS OWN WILL INDICATING IN EVENT OF DEATH ABROAD HE DID NOT WISH TO BE RETURNED TO U.S. FOR BURIAL.

4. LATEST INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO EMBASSY IS THAT INTERMENT MUST TAKE PLACE BY 13:00 HOURS LOCAL TIME JULY 29 IF OTHER INSTRUCTIONS NOT RECEIVED PRIOR THAT TIME.

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03980, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

30 Jul 1975

FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE

SUBJECT:DEATH OF HOTCHKISS

1. MRS. HOTCHKISS ADVISED DEPARTMENT THAT SON WISHED BE BURIED WITH RETTIE IF CREMATION NOT POSSIBLE AND THAT SHE WILLING PAY COST IF BURIAL HAS NOT ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. ACCORDING MRS. HOTCHKISS, COST OF RETTIE’S BURIAL WAS SIXTY DOLLARS. FYI:MOTHER STATED DECEASED HAD EXPRESSED DESIRE TO DIE WITH RETTIE.

2. MOTHER HAS DECEASED’S WILL OF WHICH SHE IS EXECUTRIX. SHE ESPECIALLY INTERESTED IN DECEASED’S JOURNEY LOGS AND REQUESTS INVENTORY OF EFFECTS BE SENT TO HER ASAP.

INGERSOLL
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975STATE179510, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

So it seems that Robert HOTCHKISS was so upset at his friend George RETTIE’s death that he took his own life. And it emerges that he had told his mother of his wish to be buried with his friend and that he had no desire to be repatriated to the USA in the event of his death abroad. I wonder why the antipathy towards his homeland? And could the friends have been lovers?

Well, one thing is certain and that is that the friends were inventors!

Patents

Together they lodged a number of patents to the U.S. Patent Office:

  • US 2905762, FIRE AND BURGLAR ALARM SYSTEM, Filed 10 Apr 1957
  • US 2949508, TELEPHONE DIALING DEVICE, Filed 7 Oct 1958
  • US 3173686, COIN OPERATED KIDDIE RIDE, Filed 18 Jul 1962

Interestingly, the patent applications show the friends living at the same address together in North Miami Beach, Florida. We also learn that Robert’s middle initial was D.

Genealogy Data

George Weston RETTIE was born 04 Apr 1908 in Illinois and died 15 Jul 1975 in Guatemala.4 His parents were Robert M RETTIE (born about 1880 in Michigan) and Mary C VEIRS (born about 1882 Canada).1,2,3,4 George had an older brother called Robert (born about 1905) and a younger sister called Doris (born about 1913).1,2,3 His father Robert M RETTIE was born on 08 Apr 1878 in Michigan and died on 05 Feb 1973 in Florida.5

Robert D HOTCHKISS was born 26 Mar 1929 in New York and died 28 Jul 1975 in Guatemala.7 His parents were Frank and Katherine (both born about 1905 in New York).6 Robert had an older sister Betty (born about 1925 in New York).6

Sources

  1. “United States Census, 1910,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MKCB-VVF : accessed 4 July 2012),
    George W Rettie in household of Robert M Rettie, Chicago Ward 15, Cook, Illinois.
  2. “United States Census, 1920,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MJ3P-B8S : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Weston Rettie in household of Robert Rettie, City Of Chicago Ward 15, Cook, Illinois.
  3. “United States Census, 1930,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XSP4-JCL : accessed 4 July 2012),
    George W Rettie in household of Robert M Rettie, Chicago (Districts 1001-1250), Cook, Illinois.
  4. “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQB4-YCM : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert M Rettie in entry for Rettie, 1908.
  5. “Florida, Death Index, 1877-1998,” index,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VV6B-BD3 : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert M Rettie, 1973.
  6. “United States Census, 1930,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X4T7-R4P : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert D Hotchkiss in household of Frank E Hotchkiss, Mexico, Oswego, New York.
  7. “United States Social Security Death Index,” index,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JKGW-ZZ9 : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert D Hotchkiss, 1975.