As we honor the 58th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Corps Act, we remember the accomplishments of those who recently passed away with the distinction of being known as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
Dr. Thomas Andrew Boyd (1942-2019) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia before beginning his distinguished international teaching career. Dr. Boyd studied at Wabash College; The Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands; and earned his Doctorate at Cambridge University. Dr. Boyd’s diverse assignments included teaching at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Wolfson College, The Hague, Netherlands; and University of Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa. He was a visiting professor of sociology at Zhongshan University in the People’s Republic of China; a participant with Habitat for Humanity International in Peru; a consultant, Rural Development Planner/Trainer with United Nations Food and Agriculture mission to Zambia; a research assistant with the Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands; and a workshop leader for Economic Development in Puerto Rico. For 29 years before his retirement, Dr. Boyd taught at Berea College and served as Chair of the Department of Sociology.
Dorothy Elizabeth (Betsy) Brown’s career as a reporter at The New York Times and other papers began at the University of California, Berkeley, where she wrote for the student paper. After the start of World War II, she left college to work on a dock, took a troop ship to Hawaii, and joined the Women’s Air Raid Defense. After the war, she was a reporter at The Honolulu Advertiser and then the San Francisco Examiner. After a move to New York City, she eventually became a writer at Newsweek. For many years Betsy was a reporter at The Patent Trader in Mt. Kisco, NY. Betsy received numerous awards, including a national prize for a series on the burdens on corporate wives. In the late 1960s she became director of communications for the Urban Development Corp. in Westchester. After retiring, she went to Antigua for two years with the Peace Corps, where she lived over a store in a small inland village and worked with the Chamber of Commerce, organized a women’s sewing group, and survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Janice Jaeger Burns was a public health advocate, Peace Corps Volunteer, and globetrotting adventurer. A graduate of St. Joseph College and Boston University School of Nursing, she was among the first Peace Corps volunteers sent to Malaysia in 1962. Janice deepened her commitment to public health with positions at the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, Project Hope, and the Aga Khan University, living and working in a number of countries including Pakistan, Columbia, Ethiopia, and Venezuela.
Bruce MacBain was an author, scholar, and teacher. He served in the Peace Corps in Malaysia. Bruce taught ancient history at Vanderbilt and Boston Universities after earning his B.A. in Classics from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His historical novels Roman Games and The Bull Slayer are mysteries set in ancient Rome. His trilogy, Odd Tanglehair’s Saga, is a Viking coming-of-age story set in 1000 AD. His forthcoming action/thriller, Shanghai Blues, follows an African-American jazz trumpeter caught up in opium gangs and communist cadres in 1927 Shanghai.
Ira Okun served his country as a veteran of the Korean War and in Ghana as Deputy Director of Peace Corps from 1968-1971. Although early in his career Ira worked with delinquents as a probation officer and Superintendent of Marin County’s Juvenile Hall, he shifted his career to work in prevention programs, taking a series of leadership positions at nonprofits serving youth and families. Ira served as executive director of a residential program for troubled teenage girls, and as CEO of Family Service Agency of San Francisco. Ira managed programs in geriatrics, mental health, teen pregnancy, child development, and child abuse prevention. He was the founding president of the California Association of Local Conservation Corps, which generated income to improve educational and occupational programs for at-risk youth.
Dr. William Lloyd Paly worked in rural health in Liberia as a Peace Corps Volunteer after earning his undergraduate degree from Clark University in 1975. In 1981, he earned a M.A. from the Harvard School of Public Health before starting his career as a physician. Bill attended the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, completed his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Yale University, and a fellowship in hand surgery at Tufts University. Since joining Coastal Orthopedic Associates at Beverly Hospital in 1992, he helped thousands of patients.
Mary Burch (Tracy) Ford attended Trinity College in Washington, DC, but, rather than graduate, she withdrew to work in Baltimore, then in London, England. She joined the Peace Corps in 1967, where she served in Senegal at a social center with a kindergarten, adult literacy classes, and prenatal health classes. There she met Brian Ford who was also serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The couple moved to Boston, where she finished college at Boston University, magna cum laude. She then earned a M.A. in Social Work at Simmons College. Professional positions included serving as a residential counselor at Groton School, Dean of Students, and then Head of School at Miss Porters School, where the library is now named the M. Burch Tracy Ford Library. Upon retiring, she served on multiple boards, including the Maranyundo Girls School in Rwanda, Kings Academy in Jordan, and the Council for International Educational Exchange.
Joan Mary Ambre was Superior of the Convent and Principal of the Aquin High School in Freeport, IL. During her 15 years as a Dominican nun, Joan received both a B.A. and a M.A. in English literature. Joan met Earl Ambre in 1967, left the Dominican Order in 1969, and together they joined Peace Corps, where they made life-long connections in Jamaica, Barbados, and Lesotho. Joan held many administrative positions in the Peace Corps, Bureau of Land Management, and Departments of Labor and Interior. Joan retired as the Director of Personnel for the Peace Corps in 1996.
Sister Hilda Carey taught in various Sacred Heart high schools in New York, Connecticut, and Michigan. She earned a M.A. at Manhattanville College, in Purchase, NY. She learned basic Korean with the Peace Corps in Korea, and developed a particular love for Korea and Japan. She also taught at the International School in Tokyo, Japan. She became professor of English at the Sacred Heart College for Women, Chun Cheon and Pucheon, Korea. During these years, she also taught at the University of Maryland, University College campus in Seoul, Korea. Sister Carey returned to New York and worked at Green Hope Services for Women in East Harlem, where she helped formerly incarcerated women prepare for their GED. In 1986, she began teaching at Boston College, a position she held until well into her eighties.
Dr. James “Jim” Fallon McTigue was in the inaugural class of the Peace Corps providing modern health care in Bolivia. After Peace Corps, he served our nation’s most needy, becoming the first Chief Scientist of the U.S. Public Health Service. He co-authored the Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS. After retiring from the Public Health Service, Captain McTigue went on to direct the Master of Public Health program at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health.
Below is our In Memoriam list for members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away:
PEACE CORPS STAFF
Joan Mary Ambre, 9/18/19
James Jarrett Rusk (Sierra Leone 1961-63; Uganda staff 1964-68), 10/7/19
Daynese Santos (staff Swaziland 2005-13; Burkina Faso 2005), posted 10/9/19
Dorothy Elizabeth (Betsy) Brown (1988-1990), 9/26/19
James Kendall Shipman, 9/23/19
James Fallon McTigue (1962-1964), 9/22/19
Joan Craig Clark Stewart, 9/13/19
Jeffrey Thomas “Freddie” Carter, 8/9/19
Ira Okun (staff 1968-1971), 9/30/19
Norman Jerome “Jerry” Domann, 10/6/19
Don Hanni (1993-1994), 10/15/19
Dr. William L. Paly (1976-1978), 10/7/19
Lynn Earl Blough (1982-1984), 9/21/19
Laura Jangla Audrey, 9/28/19
Janice Burns (1962-1964), 9/22/19
Bruce MacBain (1964-1965), 9/27/19
Carey E. Bell, 9/30/19
Leonard Strauss (1964-1966), 9/21/19
George P. Clarke (1961-1963), 8/15/19
Edward Alonza Holmes (staff 1966), 8/12/19
John E. Arnold (1962-1964), 10/4/19
Mike Charles, 12/24/18
Mary Burch Ford (1967-1969), 10/2/19
Bette Maxwell (1987-1989), 9/29/19
Sister Hilda Carey, 9/16/19
Phil Suttle, posted 9/28/19
Charles Rock, 10/12/19
Lara Ethel Payne (2007-2009) 8/5/19
COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED
James Connell, 9/28/19
Shirley Ellis-Knoernschild (1986-1987), 12/13/18
Robert B. Francis, 9/22/19
William L. “Scott” Gard, 7/23/19
George Scholz, 9/16/19
Ed Ward, 10/13/19
If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, contact [email protected].
Thanks to Betty Pyle for her assistance in preparing this month’s In Memoriam page.