WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Richard F. “Dick” Stolz, who joined the CIA in 1950 and became one of the agency’s most respected operatives, has died. He was 86.
His death Saturday was reported by The Washington Post and confirmed Wednesday by Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center.
Stolz had a 31-year career at the agency when he was called out of retirement in 1987 in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the sale of weapons to Iran and the diversion of profits to the right-wing Nicaraguan rebels known as contras.
Then-CIA Director William H. Webster credits Stolz with helping restore confidence and credibility in 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.
During his second stint with the CIA, he was deputy director of operations until his retirement in 1990. He led the agency’s spy network around the globe and guided the clandestine branch through a period of transition.
Before his first retirement in 1981, Stolz became one of the agency’s most respected covert officers. He served in Cold War hot spots around Eastern Europe before he became the chief of Soviet operations in the mid-1970s.
Stolz was serving as chief of station in Moscow under State Department cover in 1965 when he was declared “persona non grata” by Russian authorities. He was accused of espionage and kicked out of the country.
He received the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal and was awarded the National Security Medal by President George H.W. Bush.
Stolz Jr. was born in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in Summit, N.J. He served in the Army during World War II and saw combat in France.