Charlotte Young Salisbury, 98, author
In A Journey for Our Times, former New York Times foreign correspondent and associate editor Harrison E. Salisbury in 1983 described his first encounter, in 1955, with his future wife, Charlotte. “No one I had met before had spoken with such cool and perfect honesty, the words tart and fresh, in a light but unmistakable Boston accent, the opinions warm, no qualifications.
In A Journey for Our Times, former New York Times foreign correspondent and associate editor Harrison E. Salisbury in 1983 described his first encounter, in 1955, with his future wife, Charlotte.
"No one I had met before had spoken with such cool and perfect honesty, the words tart and fresh, in a light but unmistakable Boston accent, the opinions warm, no qualifications.
"I had never before found a woman who would stand up to the devil (or Henry Kissinger) and tell the truth to his face."
In 1964, the year she turned 50, they married and began a life of sometimes-harrowing but book-worthy adventures in Asia that continued through his retirement in 1973 and until his death in 1993.
On Wednesday, April 25, Charlotte Young Salisbury, 98, the author of seven books inspired by those adventures, died at Noble Horizons, a continuing-care facility in Salisbury, Conn.
In 1955, the future Mrs. Salisbury went to a lecture in Salisbury, where she lived, to hear the Times reporter who had just returned to the United States from the hardship post of Moscow, covering, among other events, the 1953 death of Joseph Stalin.
"The two fell into lively conversation," which Harrison Salisbury described in his 1983 A Journey, said Stephan Salisbury, a son of Harrison Salisbury from an earlier marriage and a reporter for The Inquirer.
Over 30 years, Stephan Salisbury said, "they traveled all over the world together, and she began to write about her experiences," first in Asian Diary, published in 1968, after the couple had spent several months skirting the closed borders of the People's Republic of China.
The more remarkable adventure began in 1986, after Chinese authorities allowed Harrison Salisbury to travel the route of the Long March, along which the Communist army had escaped from the Chinese Nationalist army from 1934 to 1936.
"The grueling backcountry journey by jeep, truck, and donkey took its toll, as she feared it would," Stephan Salisbury said, and the foreign correspondent spent a week in a provincial hospital being treated for heart problems.
Mrs. Salisbury stirred a significant reaction when she wrote about that trek in her final book, Long March Diary: China Epic, published in 1986.
The New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote that her account of "a somewhat reluctant trek through 7,000 miles of the China boondocks is not only entertaining and funny but also the most absorbing report I've read yet on what life is like under the new Chinese regime."
Her seven books, begun with Asian Diary, all focused on Asian experiences, from China to Sikkim, to the Soviet Union to Tibet.
But, Stephan Salisbury said, "what she most wanted was to spend time in her garden at the couple's country home, an old mountainside farmhouse" in the Berkshire foothills of northwestern Connecticut.
Born in Weston, Mass., she was the daughter of Benjamin Loring Young, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Besides her son, she is survived by three children from her second marriage, Ellen, Rosina, and Curtis Rand; a stepson, Michael; 14 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Her daughter from her first marriage, Charlotte Parkinson, died in 2008. Besides Harrison Salisbury, she was predeceased by former husbands John A. Rand and Allston Boyer.
A memorial service is planned for later in the year.
Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or email@example.com.