Robert (Bob) Tallon Dakan, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer and career mentor, passed away peacefully on October 29, 2023, at his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 84 years old.
Born on September 19, 1939, in Santa Cruz, Ca., Bob was the son of Helen and George Dakan. Growing up on the coast, Bob became a lifeguard and avid surfer, a passion that kept him young in body and mind well into his later years.
After graduating from Santa Cruz High School, Bob studied dentistry and boxed for two years at the University of San Francisco. But his affinity for sports and coaching led him to San Jose State, where he also played volleyball and earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1961.
In 1963, inspired by President John F. Kennedy, Bob joined the Peace Corps. He served in Semarang, Indonesia. During his two years there, he met Damayati (Maya) Djoyoadhiningrat. In late 1965, they were married in a service not far from where Maya was born, in Oegstgeest, the Netherlands. By late 1966, Bob had joined the Foreign Service, and he and Maya moved to Laos, where they started a family and stayed for the next eight years, only leaving the country when USAID exited in 1975.
From that point forward, Bob’s career was dedicated to public service. He either worked directly for or contractually with USAID in Laos, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand and Belize. He also served in Washington, D.C., as the Pakistan Desk Officer, and earned a mid-career, USAID-supported graduate degree in Agricultural Economics from Stanford University.
Bob retired from the Foreign Service in 1999, following his posts as Mission Director in Belize and Office Director in the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau. But he continued to work with USAID, including once again in Indonesia, following Timor Leste’s independence in 2002 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, where he was particularly invested in sustainable coffee enterprises in Timor and in the (re)construction of the 175-km Aceh Road in North Sumatra.
From 2008 to 2023, Bob continued to give back, but this time as a career coach to new entrants to the USAID Foreign Service, helping to guide them through the organization's ever-evolving structure and culture. He has maintained lasting connections with many of those colleagues, often offering support and guidance throughout their career trajectories.
Bob is survived by Maya, his two daughters, Lana and Sinta, their families, including four grandchildren, and his brother, Don Dakan. He will be remembered by many for his unwavering dedication to and firmly held belief in the value of public service. Family and friends across generations will also remember him for his warmth, curiosity, caring and humor.