U Zaw-Win, 82, diplomat from Burma, 1949 to 1956 lived in Baltimore County

October 06, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Zaw Zawmyintthein, a career diplomat and former ambassador for Burma who immigrated to the United States and settled in Baltimore County 18 years ago, died of complications during open- heart surgery Friday at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 82.

Abbreviating his name in this country to U Zaw-Win, he was known affectionately as "Mr. Z" in the White Marsh neighborhood where he lived. He became a U.S. citizen in 1976 after serving in the diplomatic corps for the former Burma, now known as Myanmar.

His daughter Andrie Khin Aye Win of Baltimore said her father spent his last years trying to complete his memoirs about his life as an ambassador of the Southeast Asian nation. Burma's history had been marked by years of power struggles, military juntas and political strife.

"My father led a very active life and was a very charismatic man," she said. "He was very proud to become an American citizen. He sacrificed a lot when he came here but felt it was necessary because of the political turmoil in the country.

"But he settled down here and was able to find peace," she added. "He promised his grandchildren in Myanmar whom he'd never seen that he would visit them in 1999. I'm just sorry he was not able to go back again."

Born in 1914 in Pyu, Burma -- then a British colony -- Mr. Zaw-Win graduated with honors from the University of Rangoon with a bachelor's degree in English.

Afterward, he served as a deputy superintendent in the Imperial Police for 10 years.

Mr. Zaw-Win's first diplomatic assignment for Burma was to Washington in 1949, only two years after the country gained independence from Britain.

His subsequent postings included Britain and Indonesia. Mr. Zaw-Win was ambassador to France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Pakistan from 1950 to 1956, when he retired and returned to Burma with his family.

In Rangoon, Mr. Zaw-Win earned a law degree and took up journalism, writing a weekly column in the Nation and the Working People's Daily, two of Burma's top newspapers.

An avid sportsman, Mr. Zaw-Win led an active life in his later years. He volunteered more than 2,000 hours at Franklin Square Hospital Center, where he was a favorite among the nursing staff.

Services were held yesterday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, Inc.

Additional survivors include his wife of 58 years, Wendy; three sons, Dr. Bo Zaw-Win of Baltimore, Kenneth and Aye Zaw-Win, both of Yangon (the former Rangoon); another daughter, Ni Ni Nay Win of Yangon; 14 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 10/06/97

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