Charles E. Pedonti, 85, dedicated to foreign service

Charles Pedonti led an extraordinary life that allowed him to travel the world, and his knowledge of foreign affairs kept him connected to the places he lived and worked.

Dedicated to his country, his work and his family, Mr. Pedonti was a native of Hull, Mass. He joined the Army at 18 and fought in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge. He was injured at the Bridge at Remagen and received the Purple Heart.

During the war Mr. Pedonti met the woman who would capture his heart, Jeannine Madeleine Beguin. They met in Paris on V-E Day, after he borrowed her bicycle.

“I was with a girlfriend in front of a building,” Mrs. Pedonti recalled. “During the German occupation it was forbidden to have a car but it was OK to have a bicycle.”

They later dated and were married in 1950, after Mrs. Pedonti had been naturalized.

After the war, Mr. Pedonti joined the Foreign Service, working in the U.S. Embassy in France, and later joined the U.S. State Department. He served in Jerusalem, Turkey, Washington, Tunisia, the Republic of Benin, Thailand, Cambodia, Austria and the Dominican Republic. He retired after 33 years.

Charles E. Pedonti of Alpharetta died March 1 of complications from chronic lymphoid leukemia. He was 85. Burial will be Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery. Roswell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Pedonti had an extensive African art collection that included tapestries, bronze and African masks. Mrs. Pedonti said her husband began collecting African art in 1952 from a person he met in Jerusalem.

His daughter, Claudine Horrocks of Cumming, said her father “was very dedicated to his work, that was his life. Most of his posts were in West Africa and East Africa, and if someone had said to him, ‘Mr. Pedonti, you’re going to Benin tomorrow,’ he would have had his bag packed.”

Among his hobbies, Mr. Pedonti was an amateur photographer. “He had a keen interest in photography as a young man,” said his son, Patrick Pedonti of West Hartford, Conn. “He developed his own prints and focused on pictures of the countries that he had lived in.”

He also enjoyed boating and fishing in Florida with his son.

The Pedontis were attracted to the Alpharetta area after visiting friends and later moved to the city from Arlington, Va. “It was smaller at the time and people were very friendly,” Mrs. Pedonti said.

After moving to Georgia, he and Mrs. Pedonti became members of the Atlanta-Cotonou Sister City committee, which promotes relations between the United States and Benin.

Mrs. Horrocks said her father was well liked because he always had a joke or a story. “He had a lot of knowledge about world politics and whenever he met someone from a different country, he would have a story to tell them because he always knew something about that state or country.”

“Even though he enjoyed his career in the U.S. State Department, he wanted me to seek a career in private industry because he felt the opportunities for advancement were higher,” his son said. “He was right!”

In addition to his wife, son and daughter, Mr. Pedonti is survived by four grandchildren.