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Julia Thorne, 61; Author Was Former Wife of John Kerry

April 29, 2006|From Times Wire Services

Julia Thorne, the former wife of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry who turned her experience with depression into a bestselling book, has died of cancer. She was 61.

Thorne died Thursday at a friend's home in Concord, Mass., the senator's office said.

Thorne, who struggled with depression for much of the 1980s, also founded a nonprofit education foundation called the Depression Initiative.

In 1993, she wrote "You Are Not Alone: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Depression," with Larry Rothstein. A second book, "A Change of Heart: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Divorce," was published in 1996.

"She was a phenomenal mother," daughter Vanessa Kerry told the Boston Globe. "And she affected many others too. So many people have come up to me over the years, even on the campaign trail, to say how much of a difference her books made for them."

John Kerry called Thorne "the best mom two daughters could want. She was completely committed to the kids and their future."

Born Sept. 16, 1944, in New York to Alice and Landon K. Thorne Jr., Julia Stimson Thorne had a privileged upbringing. She spent most of her youth in Italy, where her father was a diplomat and then publisher of the Rome Daily American.

"I was what you might call a high-society jet-setter," Thorne told the Boston Globe in 2003.

"I had been brought up in this rarefied world. My mother was very Edwardian in her value system. She had an idea of what was a decorous life for a young lady, and that didn't include going to colleges. It was more about knowing the right people in the right palaces. It was a waste of a good mind."

She attended the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., and, after graduating, took classes at the New York School of Interior Design and Radcliffe College.

Thorne and Kerry married in 1970 and had two daughters, Vanessa and Alexandra. They separated in 1982, divorced in 1988 but remained friendly, and she supported his 2004 presidential bid.

She married Richard Charlesworth in 1997 and they moved to Bozeman, Mont. She was being treated for transitional-cell carcinoma in the Boston area.

Thorne never felt comfortable with the demands of being a political wife, said Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War."

"[Thorne] didn't enjoy the breakfasts, the lunches, the shaking of hands: the upbeat rigmarole of politics. She loathed the back-stabbing of it. She went on her own journey, one based on spirituality and nature," Brinkley said.

Besides her husband and daughters, Thorne is survived by two brothers: her twin, David, of Brookline, Mass., and Landon K. III of Beaufort, S.C.

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