Joseph E. Lazarsky, CIA operations officer

August 30, 2013

Joseph E. Lazarsky, a retired operations officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, died July 30 at Jackson House assisted living of Boston, Va. He was 91.

He died of heart disease, said a son, Joseph S. Lazarsky.

Mr. Lazarsky was a CIA officer from 1952 until he retired in 1978, serving in various posts in Asia and at CIA headquarters at Langley. He was acting chief of station for part of his assignment in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972, a period of intense U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Joseph Edward Lazarsky was born in Luzerne County, Pa. He attended Pennsylvania State University but left to join the Army before the United States entered World War II.

During the war, he served in the China-Burma-India theater with a detachment of the Office of Strategic Services, a predecessor of the CIA. He was a paratrooper and engaged in guerrilla combat operations behind enemy lines. His decorations included the Legion of Merit and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, Mr. Lazarsky returned to study at Penn State and later served as an Air Force officer. He was an air attache in India from 1948 to 1951.

He received the CIA Certificate of Distinction in 1968 and the National Intelligence Medal in 1978.

Since the late 1960s, Mr. Lazarsky had lived in Middleburg. His avocations included gardening and fishing.

His wife, Barbara Ward Lazarsky, whom he married in 1952, died in 2001.

Survivors include three children, Edward S. Lazarsky of Chittenango Falls, N.Y., Jinx Fox of Orlean and Christopher Lazarsky of Middleburg; and a granddaughter.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Mr. Lazarsky was chief of station in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972. He was acting chief-of-station for part of his assignment in Vietnam during those years.

— Bart Barnes