John Kent Scales, 10/19/1937 - 4/14/2020

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John Kent Scales
October 19, 1937 – April 14, 2020

John Kent Scales was born in Swarthmore, PA to Constance (Kent) and Richard D. Scales on October 19, 1937. As the oldest of three children living in Park Ridge, Illinois, his early life was dramatically shaped as a young boy by the untimely death of his father and grandmother in a car accident.

After graduating from Williams College and Cornell Law School and being admitted to the Washington D.C. and Massachusetts Bars, John began his career as an associate in Sullivan & Worcester Esqs. corporate practice in Boston, Massachusetts. 

John then moved to Washington D.C. to work as Counsel to Republican members of the U.S. Senate Labor Subcommittees on Employment, Poverty, Children and Youth. In that role, he worked closely with Senator Jacob Javits of New York. John was instrumental in gaining enactment of laws that provided comprehensive employment, training, early childhood education, volunteer, and anti-poverty programs. He was particularly proud to be a staff member in President Lyndon Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders—known as the Kerner Commission.

After his work for the U.S. Congress, John served for seven years as General Counsel for the Peace Corps, where he managed legal matters for its operations in the U.S. and 86 countries. He managed all litigation and complex issues related to legal, compliance, diplomatic, operational, Congressional and media activities. At times he served as Acting Director of the Peace Corps. 

Subsequently, John worked for seven years at USAID, initially as legal advisor to the regional bureaus for Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Eurasia and later in Central Asia. A great joy of his life was working as Regional Legal Advisor and Director of Democratic Transition for Central Asia, based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In that role, he supervised democratic and level development in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. His final role with the agency was as attorney in its Office of General Counsel in Washington D.C.

John became a member of the Friends Meeting of Washington on June 19, 1977 and was welcomed into membership by Rodney Pelton and Allen Kellum. Since that date John was an active and loving member of FMW for the rest of his life, having served on numerous committees including Religious Education where, for instance, he led RE Study Groups that focused on various Pendle Hill Pamphlets.

John served FMW in numerous ways, having served on the board of directors of the Friends Non-Profit Housing Corporation, Meeting Liaison to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and as Meeting Trustee, among other services for the Meeting. John lived his life according to his understanding of and beliefs in Quaker principles including service to others and working for social justice. 

John passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 after a valiant, two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Even during his treatments, he maintained a strong joy of life and enjoyed spending time with his many Friends and family. He had a love of international travel, adventure, and public service, spending most of his career in key positions in the U.S. Congress, Peace Corps and USAID.

John will always be remembered as a storyteller and lover of a good joke. He never outgrew his enjoyment of magic tricks and practical jokes. He was fond of his many summer trips to his home on Martha's Vineyard where he enjoyed sailing and swimming, and skiing in Aspen in the winter. He was always a warm and lively attendee at social events and with friends at Nationals baseball games while at home in Alexandria Virginia and with family and friends in New England. He grew up with a love of art and musical theatre and continued to enjoy both. Near the end of his life he often visited the Phillips Collection where he met friends for lunch and tours of museum exhibits as often as his strength and treatment schedule allowed.

John was pre-deceased by the love of his life, his wife Mada McGill, who also served in senior positions at the Peace Corps. He is survived by his two sisters: Constance Jean (Scales) Lind and her husband Eric, and Carol Ann (Scales) Teel and her husband Chip. He was fond of his nephews and nieces, who always looked forward to reconnecting at holiday events. He asked that the Meeting hold a memorial service to remember him when the pandemic allowed for in-person gatherings.