Pakistan’s First Peace Corps Director, King Berlew

F. Kingston Berlew

Date of Death: February 21, 2021
Date of Birth: April 9, 1930


King Berlew

F. Kingston Berlew passed away peacefully on February 21st, 2021 in Topsham, Maine. King is survived by his brother David, son Derek and daughter Sarah. He was predeceased by his wife Jeanne of 64 years.

King, son of Herman and Lillian Berlew was born in 1930 in Bangor, Maine. He grew up in Orono on the banks of the Penobscot River.

He married Jeanne, the love of his life, in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1952. He proposed to Jeanne by sending her a box of stationery with Mr. and Mrs. F. Kingston Berlew printed on it for a Christmas present. King’s Mother was horrified by this and immediately dispatched him to Amherst to propose in person. Upon arrival, he threw snowballs at Jeanne’s window to get her attention and then proposed properly.

He attended Wesleyan University and graduated with a B.A. in 1951. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He also played football as an undersized 160-pound offensive guard who used hard work and determination to compete against much larger opponents, two traits that he used to great effect throughout his life.

King graduated from Harvard Law School, J.D. magna cum laude in 1954 and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

King reported for duty to the US Army the day after graduating from law school. He served in the US Army from 1954 to 1956 while stationed in Salzburg, Austria.

Upon completing his service King returned to Massachusetts where he clerked for the Honorable Bailey Aldrich, U.S. District Court, Massachusetts from 1956 to 1957. He then embarked on a career in law as an associate at the law firm of Ropes & Gray in Boston from 1957 to 1961.

In 1961 heeding President Kennedys historic words, “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” King left the practice of law and spent the next 5 years serving his country. He became the first Director of the Peace Corp in Pakistan and then served as an Associate Director of the Peace Corp under Sargent Shriver in Washington D.C.

In 1966 he left government service and entered the business world where he held several positions over the next ten years while living in London, Brussels and Connecticut.

Legal Director and Executive Vice President of ITT Africa & Middle East 1966 to 1970. London and Brussels.

Deputy to the Group Director of ITT Consumer Services 1970 – 1972. New York.

President of Canteen International, London, England 1972 to 1976.

In 1977 King returned to his beloved home state of Maine and started his own international consulting firm from his home on the York River.

He operated Berlew Business Development International (BBDI) from 1977 to 1983. He continued to travel the world conducting business. He took delight in hosting his international clients at his Maine home and showing off the beauty and serenity of the Maine coast.

In 1983 King returned to the practice of law. First at Goldstein & Manello in Boston Massachusetts as International Business Partner/Department Head: 1984 to 1988. Then at Palmer & Dodge in Boston as Chairman/Partner of the International Practice Group from 1988 to 1995.

King’s proudest accomplishment was being a founder and first President of The World Law Group in 1988. Today the World Law Group is a coordinated network of prominent law firms located in 89 countries represented by 21,000 lawyers. He did things his way. Once at an annual meeting of the group, instead of giving the obligatory speech he sang “Over the Rainbow” acapella and received a standing ovation!

After retiring from Palmer & Dodge in 1995. King continued to practice law splitting his time between York, Maine and Vero Beach, Florida representing both international and domestic clients. He also did pro bono work for members of the York, ME community.

King retired from the practice of law in 2012 at the age of 81.

King had many interests and hobbies including singing, piano, guitar, golf, tennis, cross country skiing and fine wine. He traveled the world for both business and pleasure visiting more than 100 countries, bringing his family along whenever possible.

He taught himself to converse in a number of languages including Urdu, French, Spanish, German and Japanese.

King spent the latter years of his life battling dementia and even as his mental acuity declined, he never lost his sense of humor. He loved visits from family, friends and caregivers and was quick to crack a joke or break into song.

Condolences may be sent to: PO Box 215 West Kennebunk, ME 04094.

There will be no funeral services.

Contributions in memory of King may be made to:  Habitat for Humanity

Bill Josephson, one of the founders of the agency, remembers….

King walked into my Peace Corps office unannounced.  I could tell immediately that he was Peace Corps material.  Never having served overseas before, except in the Army, King became the first Peace Corps Director in Pakistan and what was then East Pakistan.  He served so well that he became Associate Director. His brother, David, who survives, was the third Peace Corps Director in Ethiopia after Harris Wofford and H. Donald

Bill Josephson — former Peace Corps General Counsel


Leave a comment
  • King Berlew and David Berlew, two terrific individuals, mentors to so many. Proud to recognize their Maine roots.

  • Such a fine person.

    I was a PCV in Pakistan 61-63 and, at his invitation, Associate Director, 64-65. King was an inspiring leader for us all.

    The experience had a great impact on what I did for the rest of my professional life.

    Bob Morris

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