Wilson Velloso; OAS News Officer and Foreign Reporter

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wilson Velloso, 88, a former chief news officer at the Organization of American States and a foreign correspondent for Brazilian and Spanish-language newspapers, died Sept. 28 of respiratory failure at his home in Zephyrhills, Fla. He was a former Bethesda resident.

Mr. Velloso was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In a 2002 article for Brazzil magazine, he recalled beginning to learn English at 5 from a British housekeeper who showed up one day in the small town near Sao Paulo where the Vellosos lived.

He received his bachelor's degree from the Sao Paulo Free School of Sociology and Politics (now a part of the University of Sao Paulo). He also studied at the London School of Journalism, the University of Cambridge, McGill University and Georgetown University.

In Brazil, he worked for several daily newspapers, including Correio da Manha of Rio de Janeiro and Folha de Sao Paulo. He also edited a literary magazine. Choosing to work in Argentina after the coup d'etat of Brazilian dictator Getulio Vargas, he wrote in Buenos Aires for the arts publication Sonido and the daily newspaper Pregon.

During World War II, he worked in Sao Paulo for the news bureau of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs -- an organization then headed by Nelson A. Rockefeller -- and wrote a number of stories on the U.S.-Brazil war effort. He also worked as an assistant to Time magazine's Brazilian correspondent, where his primary duty was to negotiate with the magazine's Sao Paulo printers to fend off cuts demanded by Vargas's censors.

After the war, Mr. Velloso accepted a position with the British Broadcasting Corp. in London, working as a roving reporter in the BBC Latin American service. During the 1948 Olympics in London, he was general editor of the BBC Olympic Games Bulletin, a daily report carried by 600 radio stations in Latin America.

He returned to Brazil in the late 1940s, worked in Montreal for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and arrived in Washington in 1955 as a correspondent for Folha de Sao Paulo. In 1958, he joined the Organization of American States as an editor for the OAS publication Americas and then became the OAS chief of press in 1963, serving in that position for six years. He remained at the OAS until his retirement in 1980.

In retirement, he worked as a stringer for Reuters' Latin American wire and the Italian news agency ANSA and took short-term interpreting and translating assignments for corporations and government organizations. He moved to Florida in 1981.

That September, he described for The Washington Post a typical week in his life as a translator, interpreter and freelance journalist. His days began a little before six, he reported, with carrot and beet juice, papaya, an alphabet of vitamins and modified yoga exercises.

"At my age," he asked himself, "is it worth going through all this, denying myself eggs, pancakes, toast, marmalade, coffee? In a few days, my father will be 91. My grandfather was 94 when he died. It's a long-living family."

Mr. Velloso's marriages to Claire Velloso, Helga Velloso and Pat McCormick Velloso ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Barbara Robb Velloso of Zephyrhills; a daughter from the first marriage, Heloisa Velloso of Sao Paulo; and a son from the second marriage, Daniel W. Velloso of Bethesda; four stepsons from the fourth marriage, David Tidman of Washington, Christopher Tidman of Roanoke, Jonathan Tidman of Westborough, Mass., and Peter Tidman of Ossipee, N.H.; and 12 grandchildren.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company