Norbert J. Yasharoff, USIA employee

February 11, 2013

Norbert J. Yasharoff, 82, who retired in 1989 after working for the U.S. Information Agency for about two decades, died Jan. 19 at his home in Arlington.

He had complications from a staph infection, said his son Joe Yasharoff.

Mr. Yasharoff worked over the years as a senior editorial writer, commentator and policy officer for Voice of America. A Bulgarian native, he spoke nine languages and had a special expertise in the Balkans. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he held positions that included public affairs officer and director of USIA’s cultural center in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia.

After his retirement, he did freelance writing for Bulgarian publications.

Norbert Joseph Yasharoff was born to a Jewish family in Sofia. He recounted his childhood in the book “By the Grace of Strangers: Two Boys’ Rescue During the Holocaust” (2006), of which he was a co-author.

In the years after World War II, Mr. Yasharoff immigrated to what became Israel. He later served for two years in the Israeli air force.

He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 1950s. He received a master’s degree in public relations from American University after settling in the Washington area in the early 1970s and became a U.S. citizen in 1976.

Mr. Yasharoff translated and edited several books, including two novels and a history of the early years of the Israeli state. He helped found an organization of retired Foreign Service officers and did volunteer work at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

His marriages to the former Halina J. Litman and the former Alvina Murphy ended in divorce. Survivors include two sons from his first marriage, Joe Yasharoff of Potomac and Dov Yasharoff of Reading, England; and two grandchildren.

— Emily Langer

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