Sunday, April 1, 2018

Renwick Sloane McNiece (1886-1983)

Portrait from the Salt Lake Times, May 24, 1916.

  The first odd named American diplomat profiled on the site in well over a year, Renwick Sloan McNiece lived nearly a century and prior to his diplomatic career was a teacher in Salt Lake City, as well as a veteran of World War I. Entering into the foreign service in 1920, McNiece would subsequently be appointed as U.S. Consul to several different countries over twenty years time, with his travels taking him to Malaysia, Barbados, Great Britain, Pakistan, Spain, Chile, Venezuela and Italy. 
   The son of the Rev. Robert and Sarah (Irwin) McNiece, Renwick Sloan McNiece was born in Salt Lake City on June 28, 1886. Young Renwick would attend private schools in the Salt Lake area and would go on to enroll at Princeton University, graduating in the class of 1907. Following graduation, he spent the next decade employed as a teacher in the Salt Lake City high school and in the summer of 1917 briefly worked as the manager for a copper company's office. At the dawn of American involvement in World War I McNiece began field artillery training at the Presidio camp in San Francisco in August 1917. In December of that year, he married to Ruth Anderson Storer (1886-1948), to whom he was wed until her death. The couple would remain childless.
   Following his graduation from the Presidio McNiece was dispatched overseas and in February of 1918 was on board the troopship S.S. Tuscania when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. 210 troops and crewmen would lose their lives in the sinking. McNiece (along with four other Salt Lake servicemen) were among the lucky survivors, and following his rescue at sea was transported to France, where he would serve in "the artillery and supply corps." 
   By the conclusion of his military service Renwick McNiece had attained the rank of captain and following his return stateside garnered a teaching fellowship at the University of California, where he taught from 1919-20. McNiece would eventually decide on a career in the foreign service, and after passing his examination was appointed as U.S. Consul (class seven) in Penang, Malaysia in June 1920. After two years of service in Malaysia McNiece advanced to U.S. Consul class six, and in August 1922 was dispatched to St. Michaels, Barbados. He would serve in that capacity from March 1923 to July 1924, and in September of that latter year again changed consulates, this time being stationed as U.S. Consul in Stoke-on-Trent, Great Britain.

From the Salt Lake Tribune, February 10, 1918.

    McNiece's time in the United Kingdom extended until 1929 when he was appointed as U.S. Consul in Karachi, (located in modern day Pakistan). His three-year consulate in Karachi concluded in 1932, whereafter he took charge of the U.S. Consulate in Vigo, Spain, a role he would fill until 1935. From 1935-40 McNiece continued in diplomatic service in Valparaiso, Chile, and after leaving the consulate there was named consul at Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1940. By 1944 he had again been transferred (this time to Horta, Azores Islands) and after a two-year consulate in that location began his final diplomatic post, that of Consul General in Palermo, Italy.
  In 1948 Renwick McNiece retired from diplomatic service and in that same year was beset by tragedy with the death of his wife Ruth in Zurich, Switzerland. McNiece would later retire to Los Angeles and two years following his wife's death remarried to Hazel Morse Hartley, who predeceased him in 1973.  In September 1975 the then 88-year-old retired diplomat wed for a third time, marrying Caroline Mathews Kelly (1906-1989). The couple continued to reside in Los Angeles until his death on February 3, 1983, at age 96. Following his death, Renwick McNiece was interred at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City, the same resting place as that of his wives Ruth and Hazel.

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