The Passing of Gary Lynn Garrison (Tunisia)

Gary Lynn Garrison (Tunisia 1966-69)

Gary Lynn Garrison (Tunisia 1966-69) died  on May 4, 2024, age 79, in Sarasota, Florida, surrounded by his family. Gary’s life served world peace through international cultural understanding. Born in Pittsburgh, Kansas, on November 2, 1944, he grew up in Kansas, graduating from The Chanute High School in 1962 and from Kansas University in 1966 with BA degrees in French, History, and International Relations. Upon graduation he served three years in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, using his knowledge of French and Arabic to teach English in the secondary schools and becoming a Peace Corps trainer in Yemen.

In his first marriage to fellow Peace Corps Volunteer Jeannie Dodson he had daughters Shadia and Emily. He attended the CASA program, an intensive Arabic Studies year at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked briefly in Cairo for the Ford Foundation. He received an MA in comparative education from the University of Chicago in 1973 and was subsequently hired by the Fulbright international education and cultural exchange program in Washington, DC.

In his second marriage to Susan Hunter he had another daughter, Amanda. Gary administered the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program for the Middle East and North Africa through the US Department of State and for over thirty-three years advised US and international scholars and artists with characteristic generosity, cultural sensitivity, and professionalism.

Upon his retirement, he married his third wife, the Fulbright scholar Lucy Lauretta Melbourne, and lived in Morocco, India, and Jordan. He continued to travel extensively in Europe, Scandinavia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand, finally settling in Sarasota, where he enjoyed biking, served on the Board of the local returned Peace Corps group, and volunteered for a children’s food charity. Gary is preceded in death by his parents, George W. Garrison and Byrtene Barrow Garrison; and second wife, Susan Hunter. He is survived by his wife, Lucy Lauretta Melbourne; daughters Shadia Lynn Garrison, Emily Jean O’Neil (Scott O’Neil), Amanda Louise Garrison; stepson, Ibrahim “Ibby” Melbourne; grandchildren Nicolas Cancino, Lucas Cancino, Jackson O’Neil, and Lily O’Neil.

A Celebration of Gary’s life is planned for a later date in Washington, DC.


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  • Dear John,

    Thank you for posting this.

    Gary had been a member of our RPCV Gulf Coast FL Board of Directors since October 2021. He was key to helping us plan local events and collaboration with NPCA. He and his wife, Lucy Melbourne, enjoyed many of our events together. He leaves us a unique legacy of generosity and service that defined his life.

    Leita Kaldi Davis
    President, RPCVGCF

  • I knew and liked Gary when we were both with the Peace Corps in Tunisia in the late 1960s. I followed in his footsteps, since Gary married a Peace Corps kindergarten teacher in Tunisia (Jeannie Dotson), and so did I (Karen Trocki). In 1985 Gary was the first Director of CEMAT, a study center and library in Tunis that helped Americans and other scholars with research permits, and I again followed in his footsteps as CEMAT Director in 2006-2010. During the years that Gary was the Middle East officer for CIES we used to get together at the annual meetings of the Middle East Studies Association. I met Gary’s wife Lucy when they came through Tunis after his retirement. Gary was a gentle, soft-spoken, humorous fellow, bright and kind and helpful, with a slight Southern drawl and a good sense of humor. Like everyone else who knew him, I will miss him.

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