Princeton Lyman, a career diplomat who served as US ambassador to Nigeria and later to South Africa, where he helped engineer the transition from the country’s apartheid era of white supremacy to a multiracial, democratically elected government in the 1990s, died Friday at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was 82.
The cause was lung cancer, said a daughter, Lori Bruun.
While he was US ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Lyman said he learned that a smile and well-placed compliment went a long way in managing an embassy — and in dealing with the host country.
‘‘The ambassador set the tone,’’ he said in the oral history. ‘‘If things were going well and the ambassador was happy, everybody worked that much harder. If the ambassador worried and fretted, so did the staff.’’
Dr. Lyman joined the Foreign Service in 1961 and was assigned to the newly formed US Agency for International Development. He lived in Korea in the 1960s, then turned his primary attention to Africa, serving as USAID’s program director in Ethiopia in the 1970s and as US ambassador to Nigeria from 1986 to 1989.
He achieved his greatest diplomatic breakthroughs in South Africa, where he was ambassador from 1992 to 1995.
The U.S.-Nigeria Trade Council, USA. in a statement sent to Per Second News extends its condolences and sympathies to Ambassador Lyman’s family and loved ones, said president Titus O. Olowokere.