For 444 days, she and Kathryn Koob, the director of the Iran-American Society, were mostly kept separated from the dozens of men also taken captive. The followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who opposed American foreign policies, blindfolded Cronin and tied her to a chair for long periods of time. Eventually, she and Koob were forced to cook and clean for the male hostages.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter halted oil imports from Iran and froze Iranian assets in the United States. He launched several diplomatic initiatives to free the hostages, and even attempted a rescue mission, but all his efforts proved fruitless. Carter’s failure to resolve the hostage crisis cost him the election. President-elect Ronald Reagan immediately initiated diplomatic negotiations with the Iranian militants, and on Jan. 20, 1981, the hostages were freed.
Upon her release from captivity, Cronin spent a year at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. She remained with the State Department, and became a consular officer serving in Greece, Jamaica and England. From 1989 to 1992, Cronin served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for overseas citizens services. She retired in 1995.
Cronin graduated from Radcliffe College in 1962 and joined the State Department a year later. She had served in the Philippines, Indonesia and Washington before being assigned to the embassy in Tehran.
Cronin died on May 7 in a horseback riding accident. She was 63.