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Joseph Limprecht Memorial Website



Speech at the Rose Garden Dedication Ceremony
U.S. Embassy
Tirana, Albania
May 30, 2003

Ministers, Mayor Rama, Ambassador and Mrs. Jeffrey, Mrs. Shelton, friends, distinguished guests and employees of Embassy Tirana—

I am moved that you have sought to honor the memory of my husband on the year anniversary of his death, that the Embassy has established this lovely rose garden in his name, and that you have invited me back to Tirana to participate in the event.

Joe was so much in the public eye, so well known and popular here in Albania that one might have mistaken him for a politician. Only he wasn’t running for anything and he studiously maintained his nonpartisanship in the face of those Albanians who were.

The influence that he had as U.S. Ambassador he enhanced with his straightforward manner and colorful persona. And he was not afraid to use his influence when it was needed: mostly at those times when Albania ran the risk of rending itself in partisan bickering. His was the voice of reason.

But I think what made Joe so beloved as an ambassador was the love and respect he had for Albanians—not only the artists, musicians, and soccer teams of whom he was a famous patron—but of all those—his employees included—who daily demonstrate just what they can do with a little encouragement.

Joe was a fan, and if his being in the audience coaxed a better performance, he was happy to oblige. After all, the respect and adulations he got from the Albanian people coaxed from him the best performance of his career.

I look at the Embassy today and at the changed face of Tirana and I know that Joe would be pleased. A functional government and close cooperation between Albania and its U.S. and European allies has brought security and better living conditions.

For Americans posted here, it has meant longer tours and the presence of families—in short, normalization as a Foreign Service Post. As the first official adult family member to come to post after the ban on family members was lifted in June of 2000,l am gratified to see that Tirana has become such a family-friendly post.

And Tirana itself seems, thanks largely to its Mayor, to have regained its self-respect. With its beautiful parks, wide sidewalks, impressive buildings, and cared-for streets, it looks today like a colorful southern European capital and no longer the dysfunctional chaos—albeit dotted with a few islands of order—it was when I arrived.

I know that Joe would have liked to stay and see the developments he helped to encourage. As his spirit revitalizes those who knew and worked with him, his ashes will merge with and enrich the Albanian soil.

I thank you for inviting me back for this memorial and to see the wonderful changes that have come to pass. I was afraid the pain of memory would be too great here, but as before, I feel nothing but love and gratitude for the wonderful years my husband and I spent in Albania and for the incredible friendship extended to us here.