Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ernest KoenigAgriculture Department Diplomat

Ernest Koenig, 88, who worked for the Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service throughout Europe from the early 1950s to about 1990, died July 10 at Capital Hospice in Arlington. He had dementia.

Mr. Koenig, an Alexandria resident, was born to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Czechoslovakia. During his early studies, he spent time in Paris and met his future wife. She left on a visa for safety before the Nazi advance.

Mr. Koenig served in the Free Czech Army and became a tutor for a French family before being deported to a labor camp in Auschwitz, Poland. According to his daughter, he survived with support from Czech factory workers who supplied him with food and provided him a place to rest. Decades later, he published a memoir about those years, the title of which translates to "In the Courtyard of Death."

After the war, he was reunited with his wife in England. They settled in the United States, and he became a U.S. citizen. He was an economics graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

His wife of 56 years, Elizabeth Kaufmann Koenig, died in 2003.

Survivors include a daughter, Nicole Sturgeon of Alexandria; a brother; and a granddaughter.

Ethel Allan StarbirdMagazine Writer

Ethel Allan Starbird, 87, a senior writer and editor for National Geographic magazine, died June 27 of a stroke at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. She lived at the Fairfax, a military retirement home at Fort Belvoir.

Ms. Starbird came to Washington during World War II, when she was an officer with the Women's Army Corps. She was a speechwriter and magazine editor and served in the South Pacific.

After the war, she was an editor and broadcaster for a CBS radio station in Burlington, Vt., for two years. In 1947, she moved to Honolulu, where she worked in advertising and for an ABC radio station. She spent a year as a freelance writer in San Francisco before moving to Japan as chief writer for the Asian network of Armed Forces Radio.

In 1952, she volunteered for the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower and moved to Washington. She worked with the Republican National Committee from 1952 to 1954, coordinating women's activities. She served in the press service of the U.S. Information Agency from 1954 to 1957, when she became a public relations officer for the General Services Administration.

She was a writer and editor with National Geographic from 1961 to 1983, when she retired. She traveled throughout the world for the magazine and wrote articles on a variety of subjects, particularly about New England.

Ms. Starbird was born in Washington and graduated from high school in Burlington. She was a graduate of the University of Vermont and worked as a legal secretary before joining the WACs.

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