Ghana’s First Peace Corps Staff (Part Two)

Ray Parrott

On October 16, 1961, Raymond C. Parrott joined the Ghana Staff as Deputy Representative. From New Hampshire, he graduated from high school in 1947 and enlisted in the Navy for three years. Taking a completive military examination, he made the highest mark of anyone from New Hampshire and was admitted to West Point. There, he was told he had a bad shoulder and would have to have an operation or get out.

He got out and went to Trinity College and graduated in 1953 with a degree in economics. He received another scholarship and went to Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he received his master’s degree in 1954.

He then went to work for Arthur D. Little.

He first heard of the Peace Corps through his work on the International Economic Affairs Committee of the National Association of Manufactures. He came to Washington, where Shriver offered him the position of Deputy Representative in Ghana. He remained in Accra until August 16,1962, when he moved to Nigeria to replace Deputy Representative Brent Ashabranner who, in turn, had just been named Deputy Representative in India.

Parrott left Ghana just before the second group of secondary school teachers, 64 Volunteers in all, arrived in Accra, but by then, two other staffers were on hand to assist Carter. Parrott was specifically replaced by Deputy Representative Salvatore Tedesco who arrived in Ghana August 6, 1962, and who was to remain there until May 9, 1963, when he would be transferred to the Somali Republic as Acting Representative. Field Officer Don White arrived two days after Tedesco on August 8, 1963.

White was born in New York but grew up in Los Angeles. Although he took his degree at UCLA in political science, he spent most of his undergraduate time on the state in the university theater.

After his graduation in 1956, “I thought I would give acting a six months try. I got a couple of juvenile parts on television, and some time before the six months were up, I decided it was a lousy life.”

The next summer he enrolled at the University of California’s school of jurisprudence, Boalt Hall, he won a berth on a good-will mission to India and Pakistan.

After receiving his law degree in 1960, he passed the California bar and joined the Coro Foundation as an intern for government and politics. This meant working in the presidential campaign of then Senator John Kennedy.

In July, 1961, he became a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County, two months after he had submitted an application to join the staff of the Peace Corps.

The following January, he received a telephone call from Washington. Would he like to go to Ceylon? “With fond memories of India, I said, certainly.”

In April, another call: “Would you like to go to Nigeria?” “If that’s where the Peace Corps wants me,” I answered and this was the real thing. Two weeks before I was due to depart—for Kaduna, in Nigeria’s Northern Region—I was transferred to the Ghana program.”

Rated as a Field Officer, White wound up taking over the management routine in the office in Accra, at least until the May 2, 1963, arrive of Olcott Gates, who shared the office routine with him.

 

 

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