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Debra A. Reid

foreign service official, was born in New York City to Wesley Orlando Thorburn and Amy Constantine, both of whom were Jamaican natives. His mother studied music at the Juilliard School of Music, and his father studied mechanical dentistry at Pennsylvania State University. Thorburn was the youngest of their three children. He lived in Jamaica for fifteen years and graduated from Wolmer's Boys School in 1945 before returning to the United States in 1946.

In 1947 Thorburn enrolled in Agricultural Economics and Extension Education, which prepared African American men for careers in segregated agricultural extension service offices in all of the ex-Confederate states as well as in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Federal Extension Service, at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, earning a BS in 1951 When Thorburn moved from his northern urban birthplace to prepare for a career in agriculture extension blacks employed in segregated agricultural extension service ...