The Washington Post

Peter W. Colm dies; State Department official specialized in Asian, Soviet activities

Peter W. Colm, a specialist in China, East Asia and the Chinese language for the State Department and the Institute for Defense Analyses, died Jan. 5 at his home in Graham, N.C. He was 90.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Sara E. Colm.

Mr. Colm began his career with the State Department in 1949 as an intelligence research analyst studying China for the Office of Intelligence Research. He then worked as planning adviser in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (now the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs) before moving to Taiwan in 1961 to work in the U.S. Embassy as a political officer.

In 1967, Mr. Colm returned to Washington to become the officer in charge of Southeast Asia treaty affairs in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. From 1968 to 1978, he was a research analyst for the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria.

He returned to the State Department in 1978 as a political analyst studying Soviet, Asian and Pacific activities. From 1980 to 1982, he was chief of the political section at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong.

Mr. Colm became a senior political analyst of Soviet affairs in 1983 and held that post until his retirement in 1987. He continued to work part time for the State Department until 1992.

Peter Walter Colm, a native of Berlin, served in the U.S. Army in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II. He graduated from Harvard University in 1946.

He was a member of the American Foreign Service Association. He had homes in Washington and Lusby, Md., before moving to North Carolina in 2010.

His first marriage, to the former Sandra Kubat, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Pamela Pan Lo Colm of Graham; four children from his first marriage, Janet A. Colm of Pittsboro, N.C., Sara E. Colm of Stuart, Va., Martha C. Behnke of Graham and John P. Colm of Lakeview, Ohio; two sisters; and four grandchildren.

— Samantha Raphelson

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