Richard H. Curtiss, 85, a Foreign Service officer and former chief inspector of the U.S. Information Agency, died Jan. 31 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

The cause was a heart attack, said his daughter Delinda Hanley.

Mr. Curtiss was the USIA’s chief inspector from 1978 until his retirement in 1980. He was previously a deputy assistant director of USIA programs in the Near East and North Africa. Earlier in his career, he was the director of a Voice of America station in Greece and a public affairs officer in Lebanon.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Curtiss co-founded nonprofit groups that were often critical of U.S. policies in the Middle East: the American-Arab Affairs Council (now the Middle East Policy Council), the American Educational Trust and the Council for the National Interest. He played a critical role in starting a magazine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Richard Holden Curtiss was a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., and a 1948 journalism graduate of the University of Southern California. He was an Army veteran of World War II.

He briefly worked as a military press correspondent in Berlin before joining the Foreign Service in 1951. His overseas postings included Indonesia, Germany, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

He received the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in public diplomacy and the USIA’s superior honor award.

He wrote two books on Middle Eastern policy and lobbying, and was a member of the National Press Club.

A longtime Chevy Chase resident, Mr. Curtiss moved to Kensington in 2010.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Donna Bourne Curtiss of Kensington; three children, Darcy Sreebny and Andrew Curtiss, both of Herndon, and Delinda Hanley of Kensington; and six grandchildren. A son, Raymond Curtiss, died in 1981.

— Megan McDonough