Nicholas Rey, who fled Poland as a toddler after German troops invaded in 1939 and later returned to Warsaw as U.S. ambassador, died Wednesday. He was 70.
He died of lung cancer at his home in the Georgetown district of Washington, his son Michael, who works for CBS News as a producer, said.
Rey was 20 months old when his parents fled their native Poland on Sept. 5, 1939, four days after German forces invaded neighboring Poland and began World War II. He became a U.S. citizen in 1946.
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Rey, who became ambassador to Poland in 1993. Rey was ambassador when Poland, a former member of the Soviet bloc, was chosen to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. His tenure also included the solidification of Poland's turn toward full democracy with successful elections won by the Solidarity organization over the Democratic Left Alliance in an upset.
He had served since 1990 as vice chairman and director of the Polish-American Enterprise Fund, a $240 million federal program to stimulate private enterprise in Poland as it emerged into a democracy from its communist past.
Before his Polish-American Enterprise Fund directorship, Rey was a managing director at the Wall Street firms Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch.