Theodore M. Vestal passed away on June 7 at the age of 89. A former political science professor at Oklahoma State University, Vestal’s life-long interest in Ethiopia began in 1963, when he served as Associate Director of the Peace Corps in Addis Ababa.
During a long and storied academic career, Vestal wrote several influential books, including Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State (1999) and The Lion of Judah in the New World: Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Shaping of Americans’ Attitudes toward Africa (2011).
In January, 2018, in recognition of his long career in Ethiopian studies and his service to Ethiopia, Vestal received the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Honour from Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council. Vestal was also a recipient of the Crown Council’s medals honouring the Victory of Adwa and the Victory of Gondar.
Upon hearing of Vestal’s death, Prince Ermias called Vestal “a good man and a loyal and staunch friend of Ethiopia. It was his desire and commitment until the end of his life to see a peaceful Ethiopia.” Vestal is one of many international visitors to Ethiopia who made it a second home and a life-long love. May he rest in peace.