THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
cousins, John Chantiles and Joseph
Memorial contributions may be made
to the Alexandria Police Foundation or
to Friends of the Fairfax County Animal
Harry Elstner Talbott Thayer
, 89, a
retired Foreign Service officer and former
ambassador, died on Jan. 21 in Washing-
ton, D.C., after a yearlong struggle follow-
ing cancer treatment.
Born in Boston on Sept. 10, 1927,
to Eliza Talbott and Frederick Morris
Thayer, Mr. Thayer grew up in Newtown
Square, Pa., at Mill Hollow, his fam-
ily’s home. He graduated from Haver-
ford School in 1945 and then, at age
17, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In 1951
he graduated from Yale University,
where he majored in English and was
a member of St. Anthony Hall and the
Mr. Thayer began his working life in
New York City with Alaska Airlines, as
assistant to the chairman of the board.
He then worked as a copy boy and
, before joining the
as a night crime
reporter and rewrite man.
The Army-McCarthy hearings and the
capture and imprisonment in China of
his college friend, U.S. intelligence officer
Jack Downey, deepened a growing desire
to become more engaged in world affairs
and in China, in particular.
In 1956, Mr. Thayer joined the State
Department as a Foreign Service officer.
His first overseas post was Hong Kong,
in 1957. While serving in the East Asia
Bureau in Washington, D.C., from 1959
to 1961, he participated in Vice Presi-
dent Lyndon Johnson’s first around-the-
world trip in 1961.
Following two years of Mandarin
language training, he was posted to the