HARTER, John James, 86, a retired diplomat and declassifier, died of natural causes on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 7:45 a.m. at the Forest Henrico Doctor's Hospital in Richmond, Va. Mr. Harter was preceded in death by his wife, Irene Teresa "Mickey," of 45 years; and his eldest daughter, Dorothea Elizabeth "Bobby." Survivors include his second wife, Evelyn Bland Harter; two sons, Tian Harter of Mountain View, Calif., and Lal Harter of Blacksburg, Va; a daughter, Tonia Vaughn of Box Springs, Ga.; and six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mr. Harter was a WWII veteran. He received a B.S. degree in history from the University of Southern California in 1948, a master's degree in library science from USC in 1953, and a master's degree in economics from Harvard University in 1963. Mr. Harter was a career Foreign Service Officer from 1954 to 1983. He began his diplomatic career as a Consul in South Africa, where he met his first wife. He subsequently served as an administrative officer in Chile, a financial policy analyst in Thailand, a trade policy negotiator in Geneva, and an expert on U.N. economic and social affairs at the Department of State. At various times he was dispatched on special missions to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Kenya, India, Argentina and Colombia. He spoke and read French, Spanish and some Bulgarian. Following his retirement from the Department of State in 1983, Mr. Harter was a freelance oral historian. Mr. Harter also served as official oral historian at the National Gallery of Art in the late 1980s until he was elected, for the second time, to the Board of Governors of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) (he previously served on the Board in the early 1960s). Between 1989 and 1996, Mr. Harter organized and managed conferences for AFSA at the Department of State. Since 1989, Mr. Harter was a declassifier for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In that capacity, he represented USAID in regular inter-agency meetings regarding declassification of government documents. In 2011, Mr. Harter published his book "Pieces of History, The Life and Career of John J. Harter." A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 12, 2013, 11:30 a.m., at Bliley's-Staples Mill Rd., Henrico, Va. 23228.
This obituary was originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.