Richard C. Robarts ’55

Richard C. Robarts ’55 died on March 25, 2018, in Stamford, Connecticut.

(The following appeared in GreenwichTime on Apr. 12, 2018):

Richard Robarts '55

Richard Robarts ’55

Richard Charles (Chuck) Robarts died peacefully in the presence of his family at Stamford (CT) Hospital on Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018. He died of complications of Parkinson’s disease and faced this challenge with patience, courage, and grace.

Born on July 22, 1932, in Rockland, Maine, to Chester and Elva (Simmons) Robarts, he attended Rockland High School. In 1955 he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Bowdoin College. After earning a master’s degree from Yale University in 1956, he returned to Maine to become a cub reporter for the Portland Press Herald. He was later accepted at Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree in international relations (now SIPA), where he was in the inaugural class of the International Fellows Program (Class of 1962). Upon graduation, he worked for AT&T’s Project Telstar US Ground Station in Andover, Maine.

Returning to New York in 1963, he began a forty-year career in international development with a focus on the Middle East and Africa, beginning at The Ford Foundation. During his nineteen years with Ford, he worked in New York; Beirut, Lebanon; and later as deputy representative in Cairo, Egypt. A true Francophile, he enjoyed a sabbatical year in Paris, where he studied at the Institute d’Etudes Politique de Paris (Sciences-Po). While there, he published a treatise on France’s economic development efforts in Africa. After leaving France, he moved to Riverside, CT, in 1973.

He left the Ford Foundation in 1982 to become executive director and later president of the Near East Foundation (NEF, successor organization of Near East Relief and America’s first international development organization) in New York. He deepened and expanded NEF’s development programs in Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Mali, Morocco, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Sudan. Upon retirement in 2003, he remained active at NEF as president emeritus and member of the board of directors until 2010, and subsequently on its honorary board.

He was a member of the Columbia University’s Middle East Seminar program. As an avid admirer of the life and times of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), he belonged to the TE Lawrence Society (London, England). In 1985, he joined the board of directors of the American College of Sofia (Bulgaria) and faithfully served this highly-regarded school in the Balkans until 2010. He was a member of the Yale Club in New York City and of the First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT.

Predeceased by his older brother Milton Robarts, he is survived by his wife of fifty-four years Dee Robarts, son Alexander Robarts (Miran) of Mamaroneck, NY; son Andrew Robarts ’90 (Amy) of Providence, RI; three loving granddaughters, Anna, Mia, and Claire; his niece Sharon Deming of Meriden, CT; and nephew David Robarts of Stockton Springs, Maine. He took quiet pleasure in rooting for the NY Yankees, reading history and poetry, Tod’s Point Beach (in any season), and summers in Maine reconnecting with old friends and family.

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