F.W. de Klerk, who dramatically dismantled the apartheid system in South Africa that he and his ancestors had helped put in place, died at his home on Thursday. He was 85.
The former president’s death was confirmed by the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, which said in a statement that he passed away at his home in Fresnaye, a suburb of Cape Town, after being diagnosed with cancer.
A member of a prominent Afrikaner family, Mr. de Klerk had vehemently defended the separation of the races during his long climb up the political ladder. But once he took over as president in 1989, he stunned his deeply divided nation, and the wider world, by reconsidering South Africa’s racist ways, a step that won him and Nelson Mandela, whom he released from prison, the Nobel Peace Prize.
A full obituary will follow.