Deceased July 2, 2023

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David Laux '50

David Nicholas Laux, Jr. died on July 2, 2023, surrounded by family at his home in Sarasota, Fla., where he retired in 2015 with his wife of 36 years, Elna Laux.

Born in Garden City, N.Y., David grew up in Dalton, Mass., a small town an hour’s drive from Amherst.

David enrolled in Amherst shortly after the end of World War II. After graduating in 1950, he joined a special U.S. Marine Corps training program for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruits; a year later, he began what would be a 40-year career with multiple federal agencies, starting as a CIA operative.

Throughout his career, David “fought the good fight” of his era, against the threat of communism, while promoting and maintaining national security interests and open markets in the shifting landscape of East Asia. An expert in US-Sino relations, David was known for his skillful behind-the-scenes negotiations that enhanced U.S. relations with both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). David served as a China policy expert on the National Security Council during the Reagan Administration. In 1987, President George H.W. Bush appointed him the chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which served as the de facto U.S.  embassy for U.S.-Taiwan relations. He held this position until 1990, when he retired from government service. David’s Chinese name was Lo Ta-wei.

At Amherst, David majored in psychology, and he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the debate and ski teams. David was proud of his family’s connection to Amherst: his brothers Dean Laux ’54 and Michael Laux ’63 graduated from Amherst, as did his nephew Dennis Laux ’79. Two of David’s daughters attended Amherst, Cynthia Laux Kreidler ’88 and Sara Jane Murphy ’84, who predeceased him in 2015.

David had an exceptional taste for adventure, long before the term “extreme sports” was coined. A mountain climber, he summited many challenging peaks, including the Matterhorn. David was also a scuba diver, paraglider, cyclist and runner. He ran his first marathon at age 50 and completed his final marathon at age 80. He also loved to dance; he and his wife, Elna, were known for their virtuoso ballroom dancing.

David leaves behind his wife, Elna Laux; his two daughters, Emily Laux and Cynthia Laux Kreidler (Jim); six grandchildren; five stepchildren; and 12 step-grandchildren.

Emily Laux