Former CIA spy Dick Stolz, who would become one of the top operatives for the agency, died on Saturday due to complications from a recent fall. He was 86.
Richard F. “Dick” Stolz joined the CIA in 1950, and quickly began working his way through the ranks. After serving in Cold War hot spots throughout Eastern Europe, he eventually became chief of Soviet operations during the 70’s. In 1965, while serving as chief of station in Moscow, Stolz was labeled as “persona non grata” by the Russian government, which led to him being removed from the country shortly thereafter. He officially retired from the organization in 1981 following President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of William Casey as head of the CIA.
In the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, Stolz was asked to come out of retirement to help get the CIA back on its feet. “He was the kind of person that would help me restore confidence and credibility in the agency,” explained former FBI director William H. Webster, who became head of the CIA around that time. “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 number one.”
From 1988 until his second retirement from the CIA in 1990, Stolz served as deputy director of operations. He was also among the first individuals at the agency to understand the importance of counterterrorism and counter-narcotics operations. Stolz was also instrumental in guiding operations in a new direction following the conclusion of the Cold War.
Stolz is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.