Joan L. Kelly; Author Led Peace Corps Department

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Joan Larson Kelly, 81, a teacher, photographer and public affairs officer, died of cancer Sept. 9 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She lived in Washington.

She was a buyer at Macy's, a columnist for a Tokyo newspaper, head of photography for the Peace Corps and an executive at a management consulting firm. She wrote three books and organized the publication of another. Her last position before retiring was with AARP, as manager of business partnerships from 1985 to 1999.

Ms. Kelly was born in Platteville, Wis. She grew up in Toledo and graduated from the University of Toledo. While in college, she worked for Macy's and later became a buyer for the department store.

She taught at American schools in Medellin, Colombia, and Tokyo early in her career. While in Tokyo, she wrote a column about the foreign community for the Mainichi Shinbun newspaper.

Upon returning to the United States in 1964, Ms. Kelly settled in Washington and became director of community relations for Vista, the home-front equivalent of the Peace Corps.

In 1968, she transferred to the Peace Corps. For two years she was head of photography, publications and graphics, traveling the world to photograph volunteers and write stories for their hometown newspapers.

Ms. Kelly received a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1983 and became an adjunct faculty member. She also worked as an account executive with Gray and Company Public Communications International and as vice president in the Washington office of the management consultancy Drake Beam Morin.

She returned to federal work as chief of public affairs for the Interior Department's Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service; in 1977, she went to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for a year.

Ms. Kelly wrote "Irish Wit & Wisdom" (1976) and two other books. In 2005, she organized the publication of "Tokyo Memoirs," which recounted the experience of expatriates in Japan from 1941 to 1955.

She served on the board of the International Student House in Washington and the Foreign Student Service Council. She volunteered for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and was a docent at American University's Katzen Arts Center. She was a member of Annunciation Catholic Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, both in Washington.

Her first marriage to Howard Larson ended in divorce.

Survivors include her husband of 35 years, Thomas W. Kelly of Washington; four stepchildren, Thomas M. Kelly of Palo Alto, Calif., Kate Kelly of Montreal, Kerry Kelly Lane of Chennai, India, and Patrick W. Kelly of New York City; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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