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MAY 2015



Norman Lee Achilles,

79, a retired

FSO, died on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C.

He had Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Achilles was born in Pittsburgh,

Pa., on May 12, 1935, to Christy and Ida

Ann Achilles. He received a B.S. in civil

engineering from Carnegie Mellon Uni-

versity in 1957, an M.A. from the Univer-

sity of Edinburgh in 1961 and an MBA

fromHarvard University in 1962.

He also attended the Foundation

Nationale des Sciences Politiques in

Paris in 1965 and 1966. Later, Mr. Achilles

returned to Harvard and completed a

master of public administration degree

in 1978.

Mr. Achilles joined the Foreign

Service in 1963 and served in Vientiane,

Hue and Saigon as a political officer. He

later served in Japan and Australia as

an economic officer, and in France and

Washington, D.C.

During his Foreign Service career,

Mr. Achilles participated in the State

Department’s Federal-Private program,

serving in a private-sector assignment

at IBM’s American Far East Corpora-

tion in New York City. There he advised

senior managers on issues involving

Japan and helped them better under-

stand how the State Department oper-

ates to help U.S. companies compete in

foreign markets.

Following retirement in 1994, Mr.

Achilles spent a year as a scholar in resi-

dence at the WoodrowWilson School at

Princeton University, and for many years

was a visiting fellow at the Foundation

Nationale des Sciences Politiques. He

maintained an apartment on the Isle de

France in Paris for many years.

Mr. Achilles served as a docent at

Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown and

loved introducing visitors to the house

and gardens. He was a member of the

American Foreign Service Association


and a generous supporter of the Senior

Living Foundation of the American For-

eign Service.

Donations in his memory may be

made to the Senior Living Foundation,

1716 N Street NW, Washington DC 20036,

or to the Sarah Heinz House, 1 Heinz

Street, Pittsburgh PA 15212.


Opal Garnet Branch,

100, a retired

Foreign Service consular officer, died on

Feb. 24.

Ms. Branch was born in Marion

County, Mo., on March 26, 1914, to

Samuel and Della (Pendleton) Branch.

She graduated fromMonroe City High

School and received a two-year teacher’s

certificate. She went on to attend Kirks-

ville State Teacher’s College and gradu-

ated from Chillicothe Business College.

Ms. Branch taught school in Marion

County and worked in the private sector

in Kansas City, Mo., for several years

before entering government service in


From September 1942 to March 1946

she was employed by the War Depart-

ment at Fort Riley, Kan., as an assistant

to General George S. Patton, and was in

charge of the officers’ training courses.

While there, she also served as a Red

Cross nurse’s aide at the hospital in Junc-

tion City, Kan.

Ms. Branch accepted a transfer to the

Navy Department in San Diego, Calif., as

assistant to Admiral Calvin T. Durgin until

her appointment to the Foreign Service in

December 1946.

Her posts abroad included Ankara,

London, Oslo, Fukuoka, Tokyo and Paris.

Ms. Branch had numerous adventures

and met many dignitaries and celebri-

ties during her years overseas. She loved

traveling by ship and enjoyed dining and

dancing on board. She once got lost in

the London fog and was rescued by a

bobby. While in Norway, she learned to

ski and was invited as a special guest to

attend the opening of Parliament.

Ms. Branch was an active member

of Beta Sigma Phi, the international

professional and cultural society. While

in London, she represented her chapter

at the opening ceremony at St. George’s

Guild Hall at Kings Lynn, England. She

was presented to the mother of Queen

Elizabeth II and had her name inscribed

on a chair in Guild Hall.

In 1961, Ms. Branch was posted to the

Department of State, where she served

until her retirement from the Foreign

Service in 1974. She received the War

Department Meritorious Service Award

and the State Department Meritorious

and Superior Honors Awards.

Ms. Branch was involved in vari-

ous activities in the Washington area

including planning for the annual Cherry

Blossom Festival, addressing presidential

Christmas cards at the White House and,

on several occasions, meeting presidents,

first ladies and their guests.

Ms. Branch served as vice president

of the Missouri Society, was a member of

AFSA and the oldest member of DACOR.

A deaconess of National City Christian

Church, she served on its Welcoming and

Reception Committee for many years.

Ms. Branch is survived by her sister,

Norma Jean King of Urbana, Ill., and 10

nieces and nephews: Hal Callaway of

Mesa, Ariz.; Stanley Branch of Normal,

Ill.; Eric Branch and Curtis Branch of

Peoria, Ill.; Kirby Branch of Indianapo-

lis, Ind.; Craig Branch of Haslet, Texas;

Melody Drew of Girard, Ill.; Mark King of

Sun City West, Ariz.; Kelligay King Crede

of Urbana, Ill.; and Matthew King of West

Orange, N.J.

Memorial gifts in her name may be

made to DACOR or National City Chris-

tian Church in Washington, D.C.