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Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2024

Title:Lives Well Lived

Author: Patti North
Date Published: April 8, 2024

Lives Well Lived honors a few alumni who have recently passed away. We share with you these portraits of alumni who have made an indelible impact living day to day as people for others. Memories collected by Patti North. You can find a more complete list at

James F. Dobbins

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James F. Dobbins

James F. Dobbins (SFS’63) passed away on July 3, 2023, at age 81 from Parkinson’s disease. An American diplomat and peace negotiator, he was widely regarded as a leading authority on nation-building.

After graduating from Georgetown, he served three years aboard an aircraft carrier in Vietnam. Following his discharge, Jim joined the Foreign Service and went to Paris, where he managed trade negotiations and the movement of nuclear weapons around Western Europe. Through the 1980s Jim held a number of diplomatic positions, including ambassador to the European Community, the forerunner of the European Union.

He supervised the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia in 1993 and eventually oversaw all State Department peacekeeping-related issues, including the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. He later served as special envoy in Haiti and managed peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Jim was selected as envoy to the anti-Taliban opposition and then to the new government in Afghanistan, presiding over the reopening of the U.S. Embassy closed in 1989. Following his retirement in 2002, he became the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation and wrote a series of practical guides for nation-building.

“My dad spoke fondly of his time at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He relished the opportunities to return to campus to guest lecture over the years, and was thrilled when his granddaughters wore Georgetown gear.”

—Colin Dobbins

After a decade at RAND, Jim returned to government service in 2013 as the U.S. special representative for Iraq and Pakistan. “He is simply one of the finest foreign service officers of his generation, a man who has dedicated his life to public service and earned respect throughout the region and in Washington,” said John Kerry, then secretary of state, after Jim stepped down in 2014. Jim returned to RAND, where he continued to turn out analyses and reports. He was still working before his death, despite the advanced state of his disease, and co-authored a report on rebuilding Ukraine.

He married Toril Kleivdal, a Norwegian model, in 1968, and after 44 years of marriage, she passed away in 2012. Jim is survived by his sons, Christian and Colin; his brothers, Peter and Andrew; his sisters, Victoria Dobbins and Elizabeth Fuller; and two grandchildren. Colin Dobbins recalled, “My dad spoke fondly of his time at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He relished the opportunities to return to campus to guest lecture over the years, and was thrilled when his granddaughters wore Georgetown gear.”

Elise Finch

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Elise Finch

Elise Finch (B’93), broadcast meteorologist on WCBS in New York City for 16 years, passed away on July 16, 2023, at the age of 51. She was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and graduated from Mount Vernon High School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown, and went on to earn a Master of Science degree in journalism from Syracuse University and complete the broadcast meteorology program at Mississippi State University.

Before joining WCBS, Elise worked as an anchor and reporter at various affiliates for CBS, Fox, and ABC. She reported on the Early Today Show, MSNBC, and NBC Weather Plus as a meteorologist. She started her broadcasting career coordinating special projects and live events for E! Entertainment Television.

Elise is survived by her daughter, Grace, and husband, Graig Henriques, a photojournalist at WCBS. At the memorial service celebrating her life, her sister Kiya shared a quote that they both kept on their phones: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” A GoFundMe page has been set up by Elise’s niece, Amira Johnson, to benefit 6-year-old Grace Henriques.


John Campion Hirsh

(entry by Provost Robert Groves)

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John Campion Hirsh

Professor John Campion Hirsh, who taught in the Department of English for more than 53 years, died December 6 at age 81.

Born on June 26, 1942, John received his B.A. from Boston College in 1964 and Ph.D. from Lehigh University in 1970, when he began teaching at Georgetown, starting as an instructor and rising to the rank of professor in 1984.

A scholar and specialist in two literary fields, as well as education, he published prolifically on Medieval English Literature (especially Chaucer) and Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth Century American Literature. He authored or co-authored 13 books in his areas of expertise and was at work on a fourteenth.

Since 1989, much of his professional life revolved around the literacy tutoring program at the Sursum Corda Apartments (later the Golden Rule Apartments), which he led until his death. This program had a profound impact on the lives of the lowincome children who received tutoring, as well as the Georgetown students who served as tutors under his guidance.

John is survived by his sister Margo Kelly; sister Professor Elizabeth Hirsh and her husband Charles Farrell; sister Jane Hirsh and her partner Michael Monahan; nephew Jonathan Kelly and his daughter Caterina; and niece Dr. Leah Kelly, her partner Bruce Reynolds, and their daughter Taylor Kelly.

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