Joyce Lasky Reed, 76

Joyce Lasky Reed dies at 76; author championed Faberge legacy

Joyce Lasky Reed served on the staff of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Joyce Lasky Reed served on the staff of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Family Photo)
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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Joyce Lasky Reed, 76, a well-traveled author and editor who became a foreign policy adviser in Washington and spent two decades guiding a cultural foundation focused on the legacy of the czarist-era goldsmith and jeweler Peter Carl Faberge, died Sept. 12 at Georgetown University Hospital. She had lung cancer.

Mrs. Lasky Reed, born in New York to Jewish immigrants from Poland, was the youngest and last survivor of three prominent siblings.

Her brother was Melvin Lasky, a leading intellectual Cold Warrior who edited the London-based cultural and political magazine Encounter. Her sister, Floria Lasky, became an influential New York lawyer who specialized in theater clients including playwright Tennessee Williams and director Elia Kazan.

Joyce Lasky, as she was then known, graduated in 1952 from Barnard College in New York and married Anatole Shub, who edited the New Leader, a liberal anti-Communist magazine.

Over the years, Mrs. Shub (pronounced "shewb") worked in publishing as an editor and was a freelance journalist. Her husband became an editor at the New York Times and then a Washington Post correspondent in Bonn, Germany, and Moscow.

She later wrote that they were expelled from the Soviet Union in 1969 after her husband had written articles that "had given displeasure" to the foreign ministry. Her husband had been given 24 hours' notice to leave. "The authorities," she wrote, "gave me a fortnight's grace to give notice to my own Moscow-based job, gather up [my] children and pack."

Within a few years, they had settled in Washington, where she wrote a novel, "Moscow by Nightmare" (1973), which was deeply critical of Russian life and featured the wife of a foreign correspondent as its protagonist. She based much of the plot on her knowledge of cultural dissidents, mostly artists she had known.

In the New York Times, Newgate Callendar -- the pseudonym for the paper's classical music critic, Harold C. Schonberg, when he reviewed mysteries and thrillers -- called Mrs. Shub's book "gripping" and "a strong indictment of a society in which suspicion and fear are a way of life."

Around this time, Mrs. Shub survived a bout with ovarian cancer and separated from her husband (they later divorced). She began working as a foreign policy assistant on Capitol Hill, eventually joining the staff of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.).

She spent most of the 1980s as a State Department special adviser. She worked under Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Michael H. Armacost when they were undersecretaries for political affairs, the department's third-ranking job. She co-edited "Spain: Studies in Political Security" (1985) with Raymond Carr, an esteemed British-born historian of modern Spain.

Joyce Lasky, a Chevy Chase resident, was born in the Bronx, N.Y., on Sept. 5, 1934. Besides her Barnard degree, she received a master's degree in political affairs from Georgetown University.

Her second husband was Leonard Reed, a retired Voice of America journalist. He died in 2008 after 20 years of marriage. Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Rachel Shub of Geneva and Adam Shub of Mexico City, and two grandchildren.

The last two decades of Mrs. Lasky Reed's life were dedicated to the Faberge Arts Foundation, a nonprofit foundation she and a Washington friend started in 1990. Now called the St. Petersburg Conservancy, the group works to preserve the cultural heritage of that Russian city and in particular the works of one of its most famous artists, Faberge.

After the collapse of the Soviet system, Mrs. Lasky Reed was involved in many cultural exchanges and restoration projects that aimed to educate Russians on Faberge decorative arts, most famously his jeweled Easter eggs. Many were sold to Western collectors in the 1920s and 1930s -- when they were seen as decadent reminders of imperialist privilege -- and those that remained in the Soviet Union were largely kept hidden from view.

Working with the Hermitage Museum and prominent Western collectors, she helped organize major Faberge shows and exhibitions in Washington, St. Petersburg, London and Paris. She also co-edited a book, "Faberge Flowers" (2004), that showcased his botanical-themed jewelry such as flowers and fruit made of jewels, enamel, gold and semiprecious stones.

Anne Odom, curator emerita of Washington's Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, a showcase for Faberge art, called Mrs. Lasky Reed a positive force in the post-Soviet years in "providing money and expertise in a time when the Russians didn't have their own in these particular fields."

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