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MARCH 2015



Marianne Collins Ahlgren,

77, the

wife of retired FSO Charles Ahlgren, died

on Oct. 8 in Providence, R.I., after a long

struggle with the rare disease amyloido-


Mrs. Ahlgren was born in Oak Park,

Ill., on Oct. 3, 1937. After graduating from

Siena High School in Chicago, she joined

the Sisters of Mercy and attended St. Xavier

College, earning her B.S. in education and

speech. She went on to teach at several

parochial schools in the Chicago area.

During her summers, Mrs. Ahlgren

completed a master’s degree in audiol-

ogy from the University of Illinois. She

went on to teach at St. Xavier’s, where

she started a clinic for deaf children in

the wake of a rubella epidemic that swept

the Chicago area. She later worked as an

audiologist at Michael Reese Hospital in

Chicago, Riverside Hospital in California

and Gallaudet University in Washington,


After marrying, she accompanied her

husband to the U.S. embassy in Singa-

pore, where she taught at the American

School and gave birth to the couple’s two

children, Ingrid andTheodore. She joined

her husband in subsequent postings to

South Africa, New Zealand, Thailand and


Wherever she lived abroad, Mrs.

Ahlgren actively worked with the poor;

she helped women in the teeming camps

outside Cape Town and victims of sexual

trafficking in Chiang Mai. Her greatest

love, however, was for the deaf. She was

a leader in deaf education and linguistics


While in New Zealand, Mrs. Ahlgren

received a Ph.D. in applied linguistics

from Victoria University in Wellington.

Her dissertation discussed New Zealand

Sign Language as a full-fledged language,

with a large vocabulary of signs and a

consistent grammar. As a consequence,


NZSL was recognized, along with Maori,

as an official language of New Zealand.

She authored numerous articles in sci-

entific journals and wrote sign language

versions of children’s books such as


Ugly Duckling


After the couple retired to Rhode

Island in 1999, Mrs. Ahlgren worked at

the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and

was an active volunteer in many charita-

ble organizations, including the Scandi-

navian Home and the Great Strides Cystic

Fibrosis Foundation.

Mrs. Ahlgren was predeceased by her

parents, Timothy and Lucille Collins of

Chicago, Ill. She is survived by her hus-

band, Charles; daughter, Ingrid of New

York, N.Y.; son, Theodore of Hamden,

Conn.; and granddaughter, Annika Liu.

The family requests that any memo-

rial contributions be made to the Senior

Living Foundation at 1716 N Street NW,

Washington DC 20036-2902.


Natale H. Bellocchi,

88, a

retired FSO and former ambassador to

Botswana, died on Nov. 17 at his home in

Bethesda, Md., of heart disease.

Mr. Bellocchi was born in Little Falls,

N.Y. He earned a bachelor’s degree in

engineering from the Georgia Institute

of Technology in 1948. He worked as an

industrial engineer at the Burlington

Mills Corporation for two years before

serving as a U.S. Army infantry officer in

Korea from 1950 to 1953.

In 1954, he received a master’s degree

from the Edmund A. Walsh School of

Foreign Service at Georgetown Univer-

sity. He began his Foreign Service career

in 1955 as a diplomatic courier, with

postings to Frankfurt and Manila from

1955 to 1959.

He was posted to Hong Kong as a gen-

eral services assistant in 1960, and two

years later was transferred to Vientiane

and commissioned as an FSO.

Detailed to the Foreign Service Insti-

tute Field School in Taichung in 1963 to

study Chinese, he was then assigned to

Taipei as a commercial officer. In 1968

Mr. Bellocchi returned to Hong Kong as a

commercial affairs officer.

He was then detailed to the U.S.

Agency for International Development

and sent to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh

City), where he worked for 18 months,

before being assigned to Tokyo as, suc-

cessively, commercial officer and coun-

selor for commercial affairs.

In 1974 Mr. Bellocchi was selected for

the Senior Seminar. A year later he was

detailed to the Treasury Department to

focus on developments in Asia. Postings

followed in New Delhi as an economic

counselor and Hong Kong as a deputy

principal officer.

He returned to Washington, D.C., in

1981 to serve as deputy assistant secre-

tary in the Bureau of Intelligence and

Research. In 1985, President Ronald Rea-

gan appointed Mr. Bellocchi ambassador

to Botswana, where he served until 1988.

Five years later, President George H.W.

Bush appointed Amb. Bellocchi to chair

the Board of the American Institute in

Taiwan. During what he described as “the

most difficult and historic journey” of his

life, he accompanied Taiwan President

Lee Teng-hui to the United States.

Pres. Lee was denied permission to

meet with the Chinese-American com-

munity in Honolulu and allowed to visit

Cornell University, his alma mater, only

after members of Congress pressed the

administration. Beijing responded to the

visit by firing missiles to ratchet up ten-

sions in the Taiwan Strait.

After retiring in 1995, Amb. Bellocchi

continued to follow Taiwan develop-

ments closely and advocated increased

international agency and U.S. govern-