William Jennings Dyess served as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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A special thank you to Jacqueline Brantley Floyd for providing me this lead on William Jennings Dyess.  I have enjoyed reading stories about his life and his distinguished career but I never knew he was from Troy.  Thank you for the lead!  Just a little background, William Jennings Dyess was born on August 1, 1929.  His parents were Tommy and May Grimmer Dyess.  He served in the United States Army from 1953-1956; was a United States Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1981-1983 and was a United States Foreign Service Officer from 1958-1983.  As you read below, Dyess had an notable career.  He died in 1996 and is buried at Grenn Hills Cemetery in Troy.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

In 1950, William J. Dyess of Troy, who was graduated from the University of Alabama this spring, will enter graduate school there this summer to study political science.  He holds a non-service fellowship from the University and a scholarship from the United Daughters of the Confederacy for 1950-51.  Dyess has planned further graduate study after he receives his Master’s degree.

The Troy student attended Troy State Teachers College and the University of Missouri.  He was elected into membership of Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa, honorary scholastic fraternities.

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Last week Dyess served as counsellor for the annual American Legion Boys’ State on the University’s Northington campus.  He had attended Boys’ State as a delegate from Troy in 1946.

Dyess is presently preparing a “Handbook for Election Officials in Alabama,” which will be ready for publication sometime in the early fall.

In 1951, William J. Dyess, a Trojan and Troy State alumnus will be teaching history this summer.  He is now attending the University of Alabama and recently won the Rotary Fellowship at Oxford University in England.

In 1956, William J. Dyess has returned to Troy from serving with the U. S. Army in Berlin, Germany.  He expects to be in Troy about three weeks and then will leave for Syracuse to continue work toward a PhD degree in Political Science at the University of Syracuse.  Dyess has a teaching fellowship at the university.

In 1962, William J. Dyess, of Troy, was recently promoted to Foreign Service Officer Class 6 and to Second Secretary of Embassy at the American Embassy at Belgrade, Yugoslavia.  He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Tommy J. Dyess of 32 Montgomery Street in Troy.

Dyess, who joined the United States diplomatic service in July, 1958, was the first member of his class to be promoted to Second Secretary.  He was posted to Belgrade in July of last year for a two-year tour.

Dyess was graduated from Troy High School in 1947 and later attended and taught at Troy State.  In 1951 he was selected as a Rotary Foundation fellow to attend Oxford University.

For several years Dyess worked for The Messenger in various capacities while he attended high school and college and served briefly as city editor.

He graduated Phi Beta Kapa from the University of Alabama in 1950.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.