David Benjamin Bolen was a diplomat and outstanding college athlete. He was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon, United States Ambassador to Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland from February 1974 until April 1976.
Bolen was homeschooled by his mother until the family moved to Grambling, Louisiana. He later attended Louisiana Normal High School where he excelled in basketball and track. After graduating from high school, he entered Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he was convinced by a track coach to concentrate on track. Bolen served two years in the Army Air Force during World War II.
Bolen would later earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CU. While visiting the Western and Eastern Europe, Bolen became impressed with the American diplomats with whom he had contact. After completing his studies, he immediately joined the U.S. Foreign Service. His first appointment was with the American Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. Bolen later volunteered to coach the track team at the University of Karachi and advised the Pakistan Olympic Association. After a serving at the State Department as Desk Officer for Afghanistan Affairs, Bolen was sent to Harvard University to study advanced economics and acquired a master’s degree in public administration in 1960. Over the next fourteen years Bolen made use of his training and experience in commercial and political matters while assigned to embassies in Ghana, West Germany, and Yugoslavia.
He was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon, as United States Ambassador to Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland from February 1974 until April 1976. In 1977, when Bolden was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, President Jimmy Carter chose him as the United States Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic (then popularly known as communist East Germany). Bolen, was fluent in German, and experienced several years of relative political tranquility in that nation.
Bolen received several recognitions including the Department of State Superior Service Award. An alumnus of the National War College in Washington, D.C., he has also been a trustee of University of Delaware, Vice President of the Wilmington World Affairs Council, and Director of the Wilmington Trust Company. Bolen’s papers are housed at the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution, and Peace in Stanford, California.