Retired Army Brig. Gen. Jesmond D. (Jes) Balmer, 84, an artillery officer who was a veteran of both World Wars and later served as an official of the Central Intelligence Agency, died of arteriosclerotic heart disease Saturday at the Fernwood nursing home in Bethesda.
Gen. Balmer enlisted in the Army in 1917 and received a commission in the field artillery a year later. He served with the 26th Infantry Division in France.
Between the wars he served at posts in this country and the Philippines. He became head of the field artillery school at Fort Sill in 1942, a post he held until becoming a corps artillery commander with the 15th Army in Europe in 1944.
He was a senior military negotiator at the Paris peace conference after World War II then was appointed deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Austria in 1947 by Army Gen. Mark Clark. Gen. Balmer helped implement the Marshall Plan in Austria.
In 1951 he was ordered to the Pentagon where he served as a planning officer in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until retiring from active duty in 1953.Gen. Balmer then joined the CIA, and held planning and coordinating post with the agency both in Washington and in the Pacific until retiring a second time in 1965.
Gen. Balmer was a graduate of both the National and Naval war colleges and the Command and General Staff School. His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal.
A native of Cle Elum Wash., he had lived in the District of Columbia area for the past 20 years and was a long-time resident of Bethesda. He attended the University of Washington where he played on the varsity basketball team. He also was a member of the 1920 Army U.S. Olympic wrestling team. He was an avid outdoorsman and an accomplished gardner who was known to neighbors as "Farmer Balmer."
His wife of 57 years, the former Virginia Sowers, died in 1978. Gen. Balmer is survived by a daughter, Jane B. McClellan of Fairfax; a son, retired Army Col. Jesmond D. Jr. of Potomac, and five grandchildren.