Tom Smedinghoff, center, reads a statement flanked by members of his family after a visit with Secretary of State John Kerry. His daughter, Anne Smedinghoff, was a diplomat with the state department when she was kiiled in Afghanistant April 6 while delivering books to a local school. David Pierini/Staff Photographer

The family of Anne Smedinghoff, the young diplomat killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, received a personal visit from Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.

Tom Smedinghoff, who addressed the media Monday evening with other family members, said the private visit gave the family comfort as they learned more about Anne’s interaction with Kerry during his recent visit to Kabul. The family also had the chance to share more about their daughter and sister with the Secretary.

“We just got back from a wonderful and really heart-warming visit with Secretary Kerry,” Tom Smedinghoff said. “It was a very personal visit, and for us it was very comforting and consoling. He again expressed his personal condolences to us for the loss of Anne and talked quite a bit about Anne’s work and her service,” Smedinghoff said Kerry and many others from the Department of Foreign Services have reached out and stayed in touch with the family.

“It really reinforces for us that Anne was part of a very close-knit family. It meant a lot to us to have the opportunity to visit personally with the Secretary to hear his personal recollections with Anne on his recent visit in Kabul and to tell him a little bit more about who Anne was and what she did and what she was like,” he continued. “Finally, we also want to continue to remember those others who were killed and injured in that attack and continue to keep them and their families in our thoughts and our prayers.”

Kerry’s visit comes nine days after he called to break the news that Anne had been killed in a suspected terrorist attack in Afghanistan. He had just returned from a 10-day overseas tour. Kerry has spoken multiple times about the incident, and spoke of Anne in a recent news briefing in Istanbul.

“In everything that our country stands for — everything we stand for is embodied in what Anne Smedinghoff stood for,” Kerry said.

Smedinghoff, 25, was killed April 6 during a volunteer assignment in Afghanistan, where she was an assistant information officer. She was delivering books to a local school with a group when they were caught up in a roadside bombing.

The family has received an flood of national attention and has set up a website to provide updated information about charities.

“The Smedinghoff family has been touched by the outpouring of support from people around the world looking for ways to help continue Anne’s work,” a statement on the website reads. “In lieu of sending flowers, we ask that you consider supporting organizations that are engaged in the same great work that Anne dedicated herself to so selflessly.” Read more about the organizations at:

Organizations to donate to include:

  • Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund: To aid young Afghan women who seek a college education in the U.S. —
  • Help the Afghan Children: Dedicated to improving the lives of children in Afghanistan through quality education and helping them become educated, healthy, productive citizens —
  • SOLA, Afghanistan (School of Leadership, Afghanistan): Dedicated to furthering education and leadership opportunities in Afghanistan and the world for the new generation, especially women —

A wake was held Tuesday at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St. in Oak Park. The funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Luke Church, 528 Lathrop Ave. in River Forest, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

Residents to line the streets for funeral procession

In a message sent out Monday, it was announced that the River Forest Service Club has arranged for residents to line the streets during the funeral procession Wednesday for Anne Smedinghoff. The note reads as follows: “

“The River Forest Service Club would like to encourage all River Forest residents to show their appreciation for Anne’s service to our country and her and her family’s ultimate sacrifice for our country by lining the funeral procession route as it leaves the Village. This show of respect has already been approved by her family.”

The funeral procession route will start at approximately 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Luke Church, 519 Ashland Ave. and will proceed North on Ashland to Augusta. It will head east on Augusta to William Avenue and then move south on William. The procession will continue to Lake Street and head west on Lake to Thatcher Avenue. It will continue south to Washington Boulevard and head west toward Queen of Heaven Cemetery. 

Second book collection to be held in Anne’s honor

In memory of Anne Smedinghoff, a group of River Forest students are collecting 10,000 books to be delivered to Chicago kids in need through Bernie’s Book Bank (

The collection, new or gently used books from birth through sixth grade, begins April 22 and will continue through May 3. Collection boxes will be located at all three River Forest schools, the River Forest Public Library and at 947 Clinton Place. A group of women from First Presbyterian Church also held a book drive for Smedinghoff earlier this month. 

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