Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his father – a former US ambassador to Hungary – his role model, during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that took place just after he died.
“My dad was 96-years-old. He was in so many ways my role model,” Blinken said in the interview, which aired Sunday evening. “He built a remarkable business, one of the leading investment banks in this country over many years. He led a life of dignity, of decency, of modesty that is something I’ve very much aspired to.”
Blinken knew coming into last week that his father – Donald Blinken – was in poor health, said a source familiar with the matter. But his health took a turn for the worse last week while the UN General Assembly was taking place in New York, where Blinken was engaged in high level diplomacy for the United States, the source said.
The top US diplomat was told around noon on Thursday that his father’s decline was accelerating. This was after Blinken faced off with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine. Later that day, he departed for Long Island to be with his family, the source said. Blinken did not attend a few events he was scheduled to attend on Thursday night.
His father died peacefully that night at his home in East Hampton, Long Island. Blinken returned to New York just after midnight on Friday, the source said.
Blinken maintained a busy schedule that day, including meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and conducting the “60 Minutes” interview.
“I guess I thought that – honoring everything that he shared with me, the best way to do that was to continue doing my job,” Blinken said on “60 Minutes” when asked why he maintained such a busy schedule on the day after his father’s passing.
From 1978 to 1990, Donald Blinken was the chairman of the State University of New York system. He served as ambassador to Hungary from 1994 to 1997.