The Foreign Service Journal, September 2020

80 SEPTEMBER 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL n Jose G. Armilla Jr ., 81, a retired For- eign Service officer with the U.S. Informa- tion Agency, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on April 8, 2016, in Vienna, Va. Born in Cebu City in the Philippines in 1934, Mr. Armilla was raised in a large, close-knit Catholic family during World War II. He excelled academically, graduat- ing in 1951 at age 16 as valedictorian from the Malayan Academy in Cebu City. After a year at the University of the Philippines, he won an academic scholar- ship to the University of Oregon. There he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1955, and then began graduate studies at the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School of Psychology. In 1960 Mr. Armilla received his Ph.D. in social psychology and began his academic career as assistant professor of psychology and department chairman at Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. There he met his wife, Ruth Daniel of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The couple wed in October 1961 and would share a lifelong affinity for their island heritage. In 1962 the Armillas moved to Green- ville, Pa., where he was department chair and associate professor of psychology at Thiel College. Three years later he made a career pivot to research, moving to Alexan- dria, Va., and a position as senior scientist at The George Washington University’s Human Resources Research Office. Mr. Armilla’s work for that office in Bangkok in 1968, where he was attached to the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, led to subse- quent work as a consultant for rural atti- tude surveys as part of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in Vietnam. After returning to the United States in 1970, Mr. Armilla, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, joined the Foreign Service with the U.S. Information Agency. His 25-year career with USIA focused on public opinion research, with extensive travels in East Asia and overseas postings to Vietnam and Chile. After three years as a social science analyst in USIA’s Office of Research, Mr. Armilla and his family were posted to Saigon in 1973. There he had many roles: USIA policy and research officer, U.S. embassy expert on Cao Dai, Vien Hoa Dao Buddhist and Catholic churches in South Vietnam, and chief embassy liai- son to the Chinese business community in Cholon. Family members recall that he most enjoyed serving as embassy spokes- person for U.S. policy to Vietnamese elites, among whom he developed close friendships that he maintained even after leaving the country. In 1974 Mr. Armilla was transferred to Chile as U.S. Embassy Santiago’s principal officer in southern Chile, based in Con- cepción. There he served as branch public affairs officer and director of the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano. Mr. Armilla returned with his family to Washington, D.C., in 1976 and served for the rest of his career as the senior analyst for Southeast Asia in the USIA’s Office of Research, with temporary duty and travel to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. He negotiated andmanaged contrac- tual agreements withmarket research executives in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines to con- duct USIA-commissioned public opinion polling in those countries. In the Philippines he worked closely with respected local polling organizations and, during the Philippine-U.S. bases negotiations, was a consultant for two U.S. ambassadors. He retired in 1994. Mr. Armilla was active in retirement. A student of Feng Shui since 1980, he published his first book, Negotiate with Feng-Shui , in 2001. He was a frequent contributor to The Foreign Service Journal and wrote for NPR’s Story Corps and other professional publications. In 2002, he testified at a policy briefing for the Virginia General Assembly’s House of Delegates on Filipino-American political participation in America. He maintained ties with theThai and Philippine embas- sies in D.C., as well as with the Filipino and Vietnamese communities, and partici- pated in Toastmasters International. He was a member of the American For- eign Service Association and the American Psychological Association. He also served on the board of directors of PRS, Inc., a mental health nonprofit, and the National Alliance for Mental Illness, where he was active with the local and lobbying groups. Family members and friends recall Mr. Armilla’s humility and his devotion to his family. They recall Mrs. Armilla’s gourmet cooking, her interior design tal- ent and her lifelong dedication to civic responsibilities. They remember especially the couple’s enjoyment of travel and time with their son, who suffered a severe and persisting mental disability in his early 20s, and with their grandsons. Mr. Armilla’s wife of 55 years, Ruth, died in November 2016, following a two-year battle with cancer. Mr. andMrs. Armilla are survived by their daughter, Arlene (and husband Pat) Campbell of Charlottesville, Va.; their son, Alex, of Annandale, Va.; two grandsons; his sister, Carmen, and niece, Rachel, and nephew, Shane, of California; and relatives in Cebu and St. Thomas. Memorial contributions may be made in Jose Armilla’s memory to NAMI-Reston, VA chapter; and in Ruth C. Armilla’s memory to Cancer Research Institute, Inc. IN MEMORY