Richard N. Blue, who had an illustrious and wide-ranging international career in the Senior Foreign Service and numerous other roles in international development, died at 86 on June 22, 2022, at home in Vero Beach Florida with his wife, Susan Holloran, his son Daniel, and grandsons Finn and Enzo Blue by his side.
Blue had his first international career exposure in Germany with the Army Signal Corps during the Korean conflict. His international interests continued over a lifetime, in academia and in the U.S. Agency for International Development and beyond. He lived in India and Thailand, worked throughout South and Southeast Asia, and later in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, representing the best of U.S. assistance efforts, creating positive relationships wherever he went. His home base was Washington, DC and the Blue Ridge in Loudoun County Virginia.
Richard Blue earned his PhD at Claremont Graduate University and began his career as a Professor of Political Science, South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He was, above all, a teacher, an exceptional mentor, colleague, friend and inspiration to many whose lives he touched, professionally and personally.
A natural, charismatic leader, voracious reader, lover of classical music and student of history, he was always curious and interested in people and their personal histories and connected easily with everyone with engaging conversation. His genuineness, kindness, open heartedness and respect for others amplified a formidable intellect and shone through all his personal relationships.
In 1975, Blue was recruited to lead a faculty supporting USAID officers’ professional development. Subsequently, he led an Agency-wide impact evaluation initiative, the Impact Evaluation Series, worked on Capitol Hill drafting content and strategy for revision of the Foreign Assistance Act, directed the Office of Egypt Affairs and served in other leadership roles.
After his retirement from USAID he joined The Asia Foundation where he served as Representative for Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In recognition of his work in Thailand he was appointed by the King of Thailand as an “Officer of the Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand,” a highly unusual honor. He returned to Washington and helped grow a global management consulting firm, and worked with others in the field, traveling extensively in Eastern and Central Europe. His stories are legend.
In 2013, Richard shifted his focus to preserving the legacy of his brother, James Blue, another story-teller and an innovative, award winning film maker who died at age 49, leaving an impressive body of work now archived at the University of Oregon. Richard created, with his son Daniel, The James Blue Alliance, to preserve, restore and promulgate his brother’s films including The March, The Olive Trees of Justice (re mastered and released in 2022), and Who Killed Fourth Ward? At the time of his death, Richard was working to develop and fund a teaching syllabus for his brother’s films, including many made for the USIA in the 1960s and 70s, to be part of the curriculum at various grade levels in schools throughout the country and the world. A memorial fund to honor Richard will be set up to promote this work.
Richard Blue was the son of Harry and Pauline Blue of Portland Oregon. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Susan Holloran, daughter Michelle Blue Benedict, son Daniel (Jodi) Blue, and his grandchildren Sarah Benedict, Todd Benedict, Finnigan Hawley-Blue, Rio Blue, and Enzo Blue. A gathering in memory of Richard will be held in the afternoon of September 24, 2022 at Susan and Richard’s home in Bluemont, Virginia. If you would like to attend please contact Susan Holloran at firstname.lastname@example.org.