By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

President Bush has tapped one of Del Norte Countys residents to be the next United States ambassador to Guinea.

R. Barrie Walkley, 56, of Gasquet, a resident of Del Norte County for more than 20 years, returned from his post in Kinshasa, Congo, to receive the nomination.

I am happy to see a man of his caliber serving this country, said Walkleys longtime neighbor and former employer Rick Bennett.

A State Department directive prevents Walkley and his wife, Annabelle, from speaking directly to the media until after his nomination has cleared the Senate.

But while the couple spent a few quiet days at home together before Barrie Walkley must return to a steamy Congo, they appeared relaxed and hopeful about the nomination.

Bennett, who had worked as the dean for the College of the Redwoods for many years, hired Walkley in the late 1970s.

He saw that Del Norte County was advertising for an English teacher, said Bennett. He was teaching at the University of Southern California at the time; I hired him. There was no doubt he was extremely knowledgeable; not only in English but overall a well-rounded knowledge of the world.

Born in Preston, England, Walkley later migrated to California and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

He received a Masters degree in African Studies from the University of California in Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California.

After teaching at College of the Redwoods, Walkley received his first international post in Yaounde, Cameroon, where he served as Cultural Affairs officer from 1983 to 1986.

He held the same position the two following years while stationed in Lahore, Pakistan.

From 1988 to 1992, Walkley became the embassy press spokesman in Pretoria, South Africa. He repeated that role for the United Nations in 1993 while stationed in Mogandishu, Somalia.

Walkley returned to the U.S. for three years and worked as the public affairs advisor to the assistant secretary of the State Department, and taught at the senior seminar in foreign policy in Washington D.C. until 1996.

After two more years in Pakistan, serving as the counselor for public affairs, Walkley has been holding a post in Kinshasa as second-in-command; who performs U.S. diplomacy when the ambassador is out of that country.

It is not surprising to find the Walkleys children excelling with their educations as well. Their son Jolyon, 24, will be graduating today from Humboldt State as a fishery biologist.

Daughter Brett, 21, is attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Bennett added she is a very sharp student.