Richard F. Dick Stolz, one of the Central Intelligence Agency's most respected and legendary operatives, died on Saturday. He was 86.
Stolz died in Virginia following complications from a fall. His death was reported by the Washington Post and confirmed Wednesday by Sentara Williamsburg Regional Center.
Stolz joined the CIA in 1950 and over a 31 year career became one of its best covert officers while operating in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
In 1965, Russian authorities got wise to his ploys and kicked him out of the country after he was declared a persona non grata.
Stolz continued his work in other parts of the Soviet Bloc, the Associated Press reported. He eventually worked his way up to become the chief of the Soviet operations during the 1970s.
There is nothing 'cowboy' about Dick, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a tribute to Stolz in 1991, according to the Washington Post. He epitomizes the careful, calm intelligence operator.
He retired bitter from the CIA in the 1980s after then-CIA director William Casey asked him to assist the newly appointed director of operations, Max Hugel, who had no experience in intelligence.
Months later, Hugel was accused of financial wrongdoing by his former business associates and was succeeded by Clair E. George, a CIA veteran. George would become ensnared in the infamous Iran-Contra affair, which involved the selling weapons to Iran and the sending the profits to Nicaraguan rebels. He would be forced to resign from his post.
William Webster, a Ronald Reagan CIA-appointee, coaxed Stolz out of retirement to help restore credibility to the agency.
I felt that Dick's background in intelligence had been superb, and his personal character and the respect he had within the agency were A-No. 1, Webster told the Post. I wanted risk-takers but not risk-seekers. We did a lot of dangerous things and took a lot of risks. But we did it within the framework of our authority.
Stolz became the deputy director of operations, heading up the agency's spy networks across the globe. Born Nov. 27, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio, he grew up in Summit, N.J., and served in the Army during WWII and saw combat in France. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Betty Elder Stolz, of Williamsburg; three children and seven grandchildren.
Thomas Twetten, Stolz's former deputy, credited him with recognizing the agency needed to focus its efforts on counterterrorism and counter-narcotics operations. He added that Stolz's amended the agency's mission heading the strategic change that prepared us for doing business with new priorities at the end of the Cold War, according to the Washington Post.
Stolz officially left the agency in 1990, retiring for a second time. He received the CIA's Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the National Security Medal by President George H.W. Bush.
You can't do any better than that, Twetten said in an interview. It means he was doing his job.