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Julia Thorne, author and ex-wife of Sen. Kerry, dead at 61

BOSTON --Julia Thorne, an author and the former wife of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, has died of cancer at a friend's home in Concord. She was 61.

Thorne, who died Thursday, wrote the 1993 book, "You Are Not Alone: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Depression," with Larry Rothstein. She also wrote, "A Change of Heart: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Divorce," published in 1996.

Her first book told her experience with depression, something she suffered from during much of the 1980s. She later founded The Depression Initiative, a nonprofit education foundation.

"She was a phenomenal mother," Vanessa Kerry, of Cambridge, 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 "a great friend to a lot of people."

"She was the best mom two daughters could want," he said. "She was completely committed to the kids and their future."

Thorne met Kerry in 1963 at her family's estate on Long Island, when Kerry, a Yale classmate of Thorne's twin brother, came for a visit. Kerry was clearly smitten, Thorne recalled in an interview with the Globe.

"He just kind of stood there and looked," she said. They married in 1970.

The couple had two daughters, Vanessa and Alexandra. They divorced in 1988. Thorne and Kerry remained friendly and she supported his 2004 presidential bid. Thorne married Richard J. Charlesworth in 1997 and they moved to Bozeman, Mont. She was being treated for transitional-cell carcinoma, a former of cancer, 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."

"What she disdained more than anything was politics," Brinkley said. "(Thorne) didn't enjoy the breakfasts, the lunches, the shaking of hands: the upbeat rigamarole of politics. She loathed the back-stabbing of it. She went on her own journey, one based on spirituality and nature."

Among her ancestors were Elias Boudinot IV, who was president of the Continental Congress, and William Bradford, attorney general under George Washington.

She spent much of her childhood in Italy, where her father had been appointed to a diplomatic post. She attended the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., and after graduating, took classes at the New York School of Interior Design and Radcliffe College.

Besides her husband and daughters, Thorne leaves two brothers, David, of Brookline, and Landon K. III of Beaufort, S.C.

A memorial service is planned for the fall.

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