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76

JANUARY FEBRUARY 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

n

Harold J. Ashby Jr.,

66, husband

of retired FSO Edward McKeon, died

peacefully on July 29, at his family home in

Chevy Chase, Md.

A native of Newark, N.J., Mr. Ashby

graduated fromHarvard University with

an undergraduate degree in international

a airs. He later received his MBA from the

Wharton School of the University of Penn-

sylvania and anM.Ed. from the University

of Hawaii. From the late 1970s until 1982,

Mr. Ashby worked as the administrative

director of Howard University’s Sickle Cell

Center.

With his partner, Edward, Mr. Ashby

travelled the world, setting up his family’s

overseas homes in Tokyo, Osaka, Guang-

zhou, Tel Aviv and Mexico, as well as

Honolulu and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Ashby was a brave pioneer in

creating a stable and loving same-sex

household in sometimes unwelcoming

cultures. Indeed, he created the rst such

home that many foreigners had ever seen,

thereby leaving a lasting and positive

example. He became the second person

to receive a U.S. diplomatic passport as a

same-sex spouse.

Mr. Ashby managed to nd jobs in

each country, often as an English teacher

or as an administrator, all the while plan-

ning the family’s next move or adventure,

not to mention innumerable diplomatic

events. A lover of music, he was a disc

jockey at a radio station in Tokyo, where

he enjoyed some of the happiest times

of his life. From 2007 to 2011, he worked

in the administrative section of Embassy

Mexico City.

While on assignment in Guangzhou,

Mr. Ashby and Mr. McKeon adopted

a child. Although China frowned on

adoptions by same-sex couples, the

adoption of Max Albert Ashby McKeon

was approved. Later, despite Japan’s

reluctance to allow foreigners to adopt,

IN MEMORY

the adoption of Benjamin Makoto Ashby

McKeon was also approved.

On July 21, 2008, Mr. Ashby and Mr.

McKeon married in California, shortly

after same-sex marriages became legal

there, with their sons present.

e union,

which began in 1980, lasted for 34 years,

cut short only by Mr. Ashby’s passing.

Since retirement in 2011 to Chevy

Chase, Md., Mr. Ashby spent even

more time caring for his two boys, who

remained the loves of his life. He was also

able to indulge a passion for gardening

that had been put on hold while overseas,

except for an ill-fated attempt to coax a

rose garden to life in Osaka.

Among the things that shaped him

most was his lineage to Sergeant George

Ashby, who fought in the Civil War and

was with General Ulysses S. Grant when

General Robert E. Lee surrendered at

Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

His uncle, Albert Forsyth, was an African-

American aviation pioneer and instructor

to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Mr. Ashby was also shaped by his

experience as a 16-year-old selected to

represent New Jersey at a national meeting

of high school student body presidents.

He was one of only two African-American

selectees out of the 50 states. On arrival in

Nashville, 48 student body presidents were

placed with local families who arranged

social events for them. However, Mr.

Ashby and his fellow African-American

student body president were simply

dropped o at a motel for “coloreds.” Mr.

Ashby’s father wanted him to come home,

but he decided to stay, vowing never to

let discrimination or prejudice steer him

from his path.

Mr. Ashby’s smile and warm personal-

ity quickly helped himwin lasting friend-

ships around the world. He will long be

remembered as a loving husband, father,

role model and friend.

Mr. Ashby is survived by his husband,

Edward, and sons, Max and Benjamin.

n

Stephanie Mathews Bell,

90, wife of

the late Ambassador James Dunbar Bell,

died on Aug. 8, 2014, in Davis, Calif.

Prior to marriage, Mrs. Bell worked

for the Department of State. From 1950 to

1952, she served in Munich with the High

Commission for Occupied Germany in

the O ce of the Land Commissioner for

Bavaria. From 1952 to 1955, after postwar

diplomatic relations were established

between the United States and Germany,

she worked in American Consulate Gen-

eral Munich.

On her return to Washington, D.C.,

she worked in the Bureau of Near East-

ern, South Asian and African A airs.

When the Bureau of African A airs was

established as a separate entity, she

transferred to it as an administrative

o cer.

Mrs. Bell received an Outstanding

Performance Rating and a congratulatory

letter from Secretary of State John Foster

Dulles for her work in establishing the

new bureau.

In 1960, she became an administra-

tive o cer in the Bureau of Far Eastern

A airs, where she met and married Mr.

Bell. She accompanied him to the United

Nations in 1961, and to Embassy Kuala

Lumpur, where he served as ambassador

from 1964 to 1969.

In 1970, the couple relocated to

California, where Amb. Bell served as

diplomat in residence at the University of

California at Santa Cruz.

Mrs. Bell is predeceased by her son,

Je erson M. Bell. Survivors include her

daughter, Stephanie Susan Bell; son-

in-law, Je ery Seiler; two grandsons:

Samuel and John Bell Seiler; several

nieces, including Ambassador Marianne

M. Myles, and nephews.