Larry Boothe: From Munich With Love
To the casual observer, Larry Boothe was an American embassy worker in Munich, recently graduated from college and enjoying an overseas assignment with his family. In reality, he was undercover for the CIA, regularly traveling into the Eastern Bloc to recruit spies and steal secrets. Each trip was dangerous, stressful, and difficult, but Boothe felt the risk was worth it to protect his country.
“It was fun, and it was an extremely interesting organization,” Boothe says of the CIA. “We were the keepers of the nation.”
Boothe, a member of the BYU public administration program’s first graduating class, worked for the CIA for thirty-one years after graduating in 1965. Among the positions he assumed are executive and administrative officer on the Afghanistan Covert Action Program in the Directorate of Operations, director of employment for the CIA, and deputy director for the Office of Information Technology. He is a recipient of the CIA Distinguished Intelligence Medal.
Boothe, however, didn’t plan on working for the government. He went to college dreaming of being a baseball star. But after serving a mission in Germany for the LDS church, he changed course and enrolled in BYU’s brand new public administration program. Not long after graduation his former professor Stewart Grow called and said the CIA was hiring. After meeting with a recruiter, Boothe was hired as a career trainee in 1966.
He and his wife, Sharon, packed up their things and made the drive to Washington, DC. Since that first trip he has driven across the country to and from the nation’s capital sixteen times, lived in four countries on assignment, and had two children while living abroad.
“We learned a lot of things really quickly,” Boothe says. “When we went to Munich we got a real surprise—we could only cash one check in American currency every month. And that taught us that when we wanted something, we really had to hang on to get it.”
The family only returned to the United States for a couple weeks every two years. Although it was hard being away from relatives, Boothe and his family enjoyed expatriate life.
But raising a family overseas didn’t come without challenges. The Boothes’ children, Lance and Dana, did not know what their father did for a career. They believed he worked at the embassy up until they were teenagers and started suspecting otherwise.
“I told them the truth because I knew I would have problems if I didn’t,” Boothe says. “And, bless their hearts, they didn’t say anything to anybody.”
The family started out in Munich and then moved to Frankfurt, Germany; Caracas, Venezuela; Brussels, Belgium; and Washington, DC, during Boothe’s career.
Looking back, Boothe is grateful for the program and professor that pushed him to try something new and apply for the CIA position. He is proud to be a part of BYU’s MPA program and is looking forward to where the program will take students in the future.