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De COU JAMES HERBERT De COU James Herbert De Cou, of Le Vesinet, France, passed away July 31, 2014 after a brief illness. Born December 1, 1928, Jim, or "Jazz" as others later knew him, was born and raised in Atascadero, California. He attended Stanford University, graduating magna cum laude in 1950, and subsequently served in the Air Force prior to joining the foreign service as a career diplomat. An inherent interest in cultures, peoples and language, combined with a strong sense of political values and the ideology of democracy, the diplomatic mission proved a good fit for his demeanor, keen intelligence, interests, and tact. He assimilated well in all assignments, learning the native language while fully immersing himself into the local culture when overseas. Over a twenty-five year career with USIA, he served assignments in Afghanistan; Rhodesia; Honduras; Laos; Vietnam; Martinique; Canada; Upper Volta; and Cameroon. Over the course of his life he developed fluency in six languages and was conversant in numerous others as well. "Jazz" was based in Washington, DC, raising a family in Reston, VA. Following his divorce from his first wife Michelle and later retirement from civil service, he lived in Herndon, VA until his marriage to Irene Epstein in 1987, subsequent to which he moved to the suburbs of Paris, France, where he remained until his recent death. He loved Opera, Jazz, plays, ethnic cuisine, learning new languages, and deep philosophical discussions about politics and world affairs. He and his first wife sponsored the immigration of many families from Laos, Vietnam, China, and other countries to the United States, and he remained heavily engaged throughout his life helping members of these families to develop careers and facilitating educational pursuits, leading to successful transitions into American society. Relationships established through these endeavors are better characterized as familial than simple friendships. We will miss his wry wit, engaging personality, political acumen, and the exceptional reasoning, intelligence and insight he brought to every conversation. In addition to his beloved wife of 28 years, Irene, he leaves behind three children; Claire De Cou of Centreville, VA; Mike De Cou of Mesa, AZ; and Jack De Cou of Alpine, WY. He is also survived by his brother Jerry, of Atascadero, CA; sister Susan Bailey, of Portola, CA; three grandchildren; Alex, Colette, and Shea-Mikhail; and substantial nieces and nephews. "Jazz" also leaves a legacy of deep friendships too numerous to mention, he would want that to be acknowledged as well; not as a testament regarding his character, but rather as validation of the importance he ascribed to such precious relationships. A small private service was held in Le Vesinet, France.
Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 25, 2014