Peace Corps Worker, 83, Among Members Lauded

Times Staff Writer

Charles A. Bellamy was just one of 120,000 past and present Peace Corps members who collectively received the 5th annual Beyond War Award on Sunday, but he enjoys another distinction as well.

At age 83, Bellamy, who served in Kenya from August, 1983, until October, 1985, is the oldest Peace Corps volunteer.

“I could see that I could do a lot to help the Third World in my field,” said the former Rolls-Royce mechanic.

Bellamy taught automobile mechanics at Nairobi University and other area schools.


The retired Pasadena resident was one of 300 Peace Corps volunteers who attended the Beyond War awards ceremony at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Hancock Park. In all, about 1,000 people filled the auditorium to watch the award presented to Peace Corps officials and volunteers in San Francisco via a satellite television broadcast. The same broadcast was watched by more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers and staff workers at viewing stations throughout the country, Canada and Venezuela, officials said.

Beyond War Foundation

The award was established by the Beyond War Foundation, a nonprofit, educational organization founded in 1982. The Palo Alto-based foundation presents the award annually to a group or person who has worked toward developing a world in which war is no longer a tool of foreign policy.

The 1987 award recognized the humanitarian work of 120,000 past and present Peace Corps volunteers and staff members.


Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps now has 6,000 volunteers in 62 nations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific region.

The goal of the corps is to help countries develop food, shelter, health care and educational facilities while promoting world peace.

“Mutual development must triumph over mutual destruction,” Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe said in San Francisco after she accepted the award.

Bellamy, a native of Great Britain, became a U.S. citizen in 1946. He found himself quite at home in Kenya, a former British colony where English is commonly spoken.


Unlike many volunteers who work in the jungles and rugged mountainous areas around the world, Bellamy’s duty was in the capital of Nairobi.

Taught Mechanics

He taught mechanics in English, but used Swahili when necessary. For example, Bellamy said, asuka was the word for crankshaft.

The poverty Bellamy encountered in the Kenyan city left a deep impression on him.


“The children are there every morning,” he said. “When the markets open and they throw out the stuff they can’t sell, the kids jump in the garbage bin and eat.”

Bellamy said the Beyond War Award complemented the satisfaction of serving in the Peace Corps.

“I was very happy that I achieved something that was good for the country itself. That’s the best feeling,” he said.

The first Beyond War Award was given in 1983 to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War were honored in 1984. The next year, leaders of Argentina, Greece, India, Mexico, Sweden and Tanzania received the award for their Five Continent Peace Initiative. Last year, the Contadora Group--Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela--received the award for their peace initiative in Central America.