August 20, 2003
1985 graduate Richard Hooper killed in U.N. headquarters
By Jim Burns
UCSC graduate Richard "Rick" Hooper died Tuesday in Iraq, one of approximately
20 people known to have perished when a bomb exploded outside United
Nations headquarters there. He had been on assignment in Baghdad as
the special assistant to the UN undersecretary-general for political
"Richard had a career that was all involved in the Middle East
and all involved in service," a former teacher, Isebill Gruhn,
said upon hearing that Hooper was one of the victims of the suicide
Hooper enrolled at UCSC in the fall of 1980. By the time he graduated
in the spring of 1985, he had earned a bachelor's degree with honors
in politics, a minor in economics, and honors from Stevenson College
for all-around academic excellence.
Gruhn, now a UCSC professor emerita of politics, remembered sitting
as the examiner--with professor of politics Sonia Alvarez--for Hooper's
senior oral examination. The first line of their May 1985 evaluation
sums up their impression: "A really rather brilliant honors performance,"
"Richard was a quiet person," Gruhn said. "His kind
of quietness might lead someone to be surprised at how really brilliant
he was. The sophistication of his thinking as an undergraduate was really
more at a graduate-student level."
Gruhn stayed in touch with Hooper over the years. "We'd see each
other every three or four years, and we maintained e-mail contact."
For a person who learned Arabic as a UCSC student, spent years in the
West Bank and Gaza, and ended his career as one of the UN's chief experts
on Arab affairs, Hooper died doing what he loved: He was trying to make
a difference in the Middle East, Gruhn said.
"There are people who devote their lives to it, and they don't
deserve to get blown up," she added. "I am very, very sad
about Richard's death."
Richard Hooper was on a short assignment in Iraq. Since 2001
he had served as special assistant to Sir Kieran Prendergast, the United
Nations undersecretary general for political affairs. Story
in the New York Times.
Richard Hooper, a 40-year-old UN veteran, was the first American
identified by the United Nations as a victim of the terrorist attack.
in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Richard Hooper grew up in Boise, Idaho, and worked for the late Sen.
Frank Church. Story
in the Idaho Statesman
Richard Hooper is remembered as "shrewd, witty, great company,
a great colleague." Story
in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"The ache in our souls is almost too much to bear,"
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan tells grieving UN staff. United
Nations web site.
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