The white house

Holmes Hinkley Welch, a former State Department official who wrote extensively on Taoism and Buddhism, died Saturday at his home in Cambridge, Mass., after a brief illness. He was 59 years old.

Dr. Welch was a member of the State Department’s Office of European Affairs, Russian section, in World War II. In 1946, he left his official duties to write his first major work, ”Taoism, the Parting of the Way,” and to buy and manage a farm and an entertainment complex in Stowe, Vt. His second major work was a trilogy on Chinese Buddhism.

In 1956, he returned to his alma mater, Harvard University, to receive a master’s degree in East Asian Studies. He rejoined the State Department as a Foreign Service Reserve Officer in 1957 and was sent to Hong Kong to work in the political section of the United States Consulate. After returning to the United States in 1964, he joined the East Asian Research Center at Harvard as a research associate.

He leaves two daughters, Barbara Orlovsky of Dallas and Marina Christie of Lincolnshire, England; two sons, Prem Anutosh (Holmes Jr.) of Robin Hood, Me., and Nathaniel Walsh of Winchester, Mass.; two brothers, Francis C. Walsh of Manchester, Mass., and E. Sohier Walsh of Cambridge, Mass,; and a sister, Barbara Sturtevant of Middletown, R.I.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 6 P.M., May 1, at the Andover Chapel at Harvard.

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