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Dyal settles down in Fredericksburg after alifetime spent journeying around the world travelin' man B
Fredericksburg resident Bill Dyal has traveled the world through his work with relief agencies.

 ABOVE: Bill Dyal (left) visited with a peasant farmer or 'campesino' in Guatemala.
Photos courtesy of BILL DYAL
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Date published: 4/4/2006


ILL DYAL crisscrossed the world--as a missionary, Peace Corps director and leader of international relief efforts.

He traveled by plane and train, boat and barge, Jeep and foot, over the mountains of Nepal, the deserts of North Africa and the jungles of Central America.

On a typical day, he might have hobnobbed with ambassadors one minute, then hopped on a donkey to go see peasant farmers the next.

Dyal, who now calls Fredericksburg home, treated everyone the same, said Steve Vetter, who met Dyal almost 40 years ago in South America.

"He's literally traveled, I think, every inch of the world, and everywhere he went, he was like a pied piper," said Vetter, who lives in Annapolis, Md. "People just loved him."

Vetter still keeps in touch with other Peace Corps volunteers who also consider Dyal their mentor. They remember the way Dyal stressed that their role was to help others find a way to help themselves. He also emphasized that the best leaders get behind people, not in front of them, Vetter said.

One former volunteer described Dyal as "one part Martin Luther King, one part Gandhi and one part John Kennedy," Vetter said.

These days, the 77-year-old Dyal spends more time at his home in the city than in other time zones.

He still works as a consultant for charitable groups around the world and regularly drives to Washington for meetings.

And he occasionally hops on a plane and travels to the other side of the world, as he did in November. He flew to Argentina to make a speech, and the trip brought back memories of other visits to foreign lands.

"There was always a crowd to greet you," he said, smiling. "I felt like a rock star."

Not bad for a poor boy from Texas.

Charting his travels

Bill Dyal--he says everyone calls him Bill--was the oldest of three boys. His father worked for the railroad, and neither of his parents was able to go to high school.

They insisted that their sons get a good education, he said.

Dyal was the first on both sides of his family to earn a college degree.

On registration day, when he signed up for classes at Baylor University in Waco, Dyal met a fellow 17-year-old named Edie.

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Here's a look at the varied careers of Bill Dyal, 77, who was born in Texas, lived around the world and now calls Fredericksburg home. He lives in the city with Edie, his wife of 56 years.

1954-62: Baptist missionary in Central and South America.

1963-66: Director of Christian Life Commission, Nashville, Tenn..

1967-69: Peace Corps director, Colombia.

1970-71: Peace Corps regional director, North Africa, Near East and South Asia.

1971-80: Founding president, Inter-American Foundation.

1980: Advisor to president, Ford Foundation.

1981-86: President, AFS International.

1986-90: President, St. John's College, Annapolis, Md.

1995-97: Peace Corps director, Panama.