Alumni Spotlight: Former
Ambassador Curtis Kamman & Editor Jon Kamman
When the first of the Kamman boys went
off on concert trips around 1950, the destinations were such "exotic" places
as Safford and Globe, or occasionally southern California. Soon,
however, the tours became ambitious and sometimes grueling forays
across the nation and into Canada.
Curtis Kamman loved them all. By the time he
left the chorus in 1954, he knew he wanted a career that would build
upon the national and global vistas he had begun to acquire through
the Boys Chorus.
"My big moment was singing a solo -- Ave
Maria -- before 18,000 people at the Rotary International convention
in Atlantic City," he recalled. The confidence he developed in
appearing before crowds of that magnitude, and the diplomacy he learned
as one of Tucson's "ambassadors in Levi's" served him well
in his professional life.
In 1955, it was younger brother Jon's turn. He
was a member of the touring group that swept through 10 western states,
returned to Tucson for four months of schoolwork compressed into half
that time, and took off again in June for the choir's first European
"I thought we were going to bring the house
down in Hamburg," he said. "And in Lisbon, scores of beautiful,
perfumed ladies rushed backstage after the show and smothered us with
"I loved to travel, too," Jon Kamman
said, "but I remember coming home and wanting to stay put for
Jon has ventured forth many times since, but
has served all but a few years as an Arizona journalist. He edited
a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative series in the 1980s, was named
Arizona journalist of the year in 1981, has held editing positions
at four newspapers in the state and now reports on national affairs
for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. He and his wife, Beverly Medlyn,
adopted a daughter in China six years ago.
Older brother Curtis has just retired at age
62 after 40 years as a diplomat representing his country in some of
the most challenging posts worldwide. He credits the Boys Chorus and
its founder with instilling an acute sense of quality and inspiring
the abilities to achieve it.
"Eduardo Caso was the sort of person who
demanded the very best from every kid in the chorus -- and got it," he
said. Among his assignments as a foreign service officer with the U.S.
Department of State were stints in Mexico City, Hong Kong, Moscow,
Nairobi, Havana and, of course, Washington, DC.
Thrills along the way have included serving as
a translator in the early 1960s when then-Interior Secretary Stewart
Udall met with -- and went swimming with -- Nikita Khrushchev at the
Soviet premier's dacha along the Black Sea. "I had to keep my
head above water at all times," Curtis said; being sent by President
George Bush to officially re-establish diplomatic relations in 1991
with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which had been under Soviet rule
for 50 years; and serving as ambassador to Colombia for 2-1/2 years
until last August.
His stint in violence-riddled Colombia saw increasing
cooperation in the war on drugs, along with approval by Congress of
a $1.3 billion aid package, which made Colombia the second-largest
recipient of U.S. foreign aid, after Israel. Before being assigned
to Colombia, he had served as ambassador to Bolivia and Chile.
Now living in southwestern Michigan, Curtis Kamman
will begin teaching foreign policy at Notre Dame in the fall.