- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2003

John B. O’Donnell, 68, AID official

John Bowman O’Donnell, a decorated official with the Agency for International Development, died Dec. 3 after a brief battle with cancer in the District. He was 68.

Mr. O’Donnell was born Oct. 15, 1935, in Waialua, Hawaii, where he grew up. He graduated from Punahou Academy in Honolulu in 1952 and Stanford University in 1956. He served in the Army’s Psychological Warfare Unit from 1957 to 1959 as an area-studies specialist for Cambodia and Laos.

Mr. O’Donnell was recruited by the AID in 1962 as a provincial representative in South Vietnam.

Over the next 30 years, his assignments included training AID personnel for field assignments in Southeast Asia, working with the U.S. counterinsurgency program in Thailand, and eventually managing worldwide technical planning and support services in AID’s headquarters in Washington. Mr. O’Donnell was a member of AID’s senior foreign service from 1982 to 1991.

Among other honors, he was decorated for his work by the governments of South Vietnam and Peru. Following his 1991 retirement from AID, Mr. O’Donnell worked as a consultant primarily in Latin America and otherwise poured his energies into his family, researching his Hawaiian and Irish genealogies, tending his vegetable garden and traveling.

A family trip to Europe in 1996 was a highlight for him after many years of having traveled and lived in South America and Southeast Asia. His knowledge of Hawaiian songs and his musical gifts of singing, guitar and ukulele entertained his friends and family.

Along with Harvey Neese, Mr. O’Donnell developed and edited “Prelude To Tragedy.” Published in 2001, the book examines the early days of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from the perspective of foreign service officers and their Vietnamese counterparts.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon; four daughters, Shauna O’Donnell, Ramsey O’Donnell Mayhew, Erin Renee O’Donnell and Meghan Mary Kunzl; and two grandsons.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Woodlawn Foundation Inc., 524 North Ave., New Rochelle, N.Y. 10801 or Ke Ali’i Pauahi Foundation’s Exploration Program, 567 S. King St., Suite 160, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.


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