Original Staff at the Peace Corps, 1961 (Part One)

The first face that the visitor to Peace Corps headquarters usually saw belonged to receptionist Helene Farrall. Helene, who studied at the University of Maryland and had worked for the American Friends of the Middle East. She wa born and raised in Faulkner, Md. and she still lived there. Her dedication to the Peace Corps was shown by the fact that she undertook a daily commute of 45 miles in each direction.




John D. Rockefeller IV, was a Far East program officer in charge of the Philippines and North Borneo/Sarawak. Previously he was special assistant to the Director and ran the talent search. “Jay” went to Harvard, his travelled widely throughout Asia, did postgraduate study in Chinese affairs at Yale, and spent three Peace Corps-type years as a student and teacher in a Japanese university. He has written on Japanese affairs for both the New York Times magazine and Life. Before he became a member of the Washington staff, Jay served as a member of the President’s National Advisory Council on the Peace Corps. He was single when he worked at the agency and had plans to have a career in public service, and he did.

One of a long line of Philadelphia lawyers, William R. Wister, Jr., joined the Peace Corps after extensive travel and work in Latin America. Until recently the program officer for Central America and the West Indies, he switched jobs, to man the talent search office for overseas staff recruitment. Wister, 29, graduated from Harvard, spent two years in the Army, then attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1958 he was on John F. Kennedy’s campaign staff, in 1960, served as co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Students for Kennedy.

Organize and first head of the Division of University Relations was Albert G. Sims, who moved from the military government of Germany to the State Department where he became an officer in the Bureau of German Affairs and later Acting Deputy Director for the International Information Agency, the predecessor of USIA. Born and raised in North Adams, Mass., Sims came to the Peace Corps from eight years with the Institute of International Education New York City, where he was in charge of the Institute’s management and direction as well as all its international exchange programs. He is now back with the Institute with the title of Vice President for Operations.


Founder of the Selection Division was Nicholas Hobbs, who took his Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State. Before coming to the Peace Corps, Dr. Hobbs served on the faculties of Columbia, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, and he was chairman of the psychology department at Louisiana State. A prolific author of articles and essays in his field, he has served on the board of directors of the American Psychological Association and as chairman of various association committees. Dr. Hobbs set up the Peace Corps’ Research Division before he returned to his job (since 1951) as chairman of the Division of Human Development at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville.


Leave a comment
  • John,
    This series of short PC biographies combine to show the foundation of how and why the Peace Corps has worked so diligently for a better world and thereby a better personal history for those of us fortunate to be among the fortunate few who proved that the original scheme developed by the founders of the Peace Corps could last for decades and decades and . . . .

    Tom Hebert, Nigeria 4, 1962-64,

  • John and Tom,
    Tom’s comment is so true. Very well stated. It was humbling to be among these people with their combined expertise and commitment to service and to laying a strong foundation for the Peace Corps.

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