In Memoriam, Winter 2021
Brian Urquhart, a British diplomat instrumental in the creation and evolving purpose of the United Nations, and who spent 10 years with the Ford Foundation after his U.N. career ended, died January 3 at his home in Tyringham, Mass., at the age of 103.
Mr. Urquhart, pronounced “irk-it”, worked in 1945 for the commission that set up the United Nations Secretariat, arranged the General Assembly’s first meeting, in London, and was instrumental in making New York City the organization’s permanent home.
He spent the next four decades as an adviser to the first five secretaries general, and for 12 years was the body’s number two official, succeeding Ralph Bunche as the under secretary for political affairs.
His most lasting contribution was as a successful advocate for the world organization’s role as a peacekeeping body, instrumental in creating the force that was deployed to many active war zones in the Middle East, Africa, Kashmir and Cyprus among many other conflicts.
He was “no James Bond,” wrote The New York Times in his obituary, “but he was kidnapped and severely beaten by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (and) leapt out of an airplane at 1,200 feet and survived when his parachute partly failed as he landed. He…once downed a bottle of whiskey to avoid freezing on a subzero flight through a blizzard to find Yasir Arafat.
“‘We had a choice,’ he told Mr. Arafat, the teetotaling leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization after Mr. Urquhart’s small, ice-encrusted plane landed in Beirut in 1982, ‘of arriving either drunk or dead.’”
Mr. Urquhart joined the Ford Foundation as scholar-in-residence in 1986 after retiring from the U.N., where over the years he had counseled Ford on its funding of U.N.-related projects and programs and post-cold war changes affecting the Foundation’s international work. The residency had been created as a one-year position, designed to enable the Foundation to benefit from the experiences and insights of leading thinkers and actors in areas related to Ford’s programs.
“Brian was unusual,” recalled Shep Forman, who was working at the time in the New York headquarters, “renewed year after year because he became such an integral part of the International Affairs program and produced so much of value under the Foundation’s aegis.”
Forman, a past president of The LAFF Society, worked closely with Urquhart while director of International Affairs and in a new role after leaving the Foundation.
“Brian was instrumental in helping me to envision the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) at New York University, now nearing its twenty-fifth year of policy research and implementation on a more effective UN and multilateral system.”
Throughout their long association, Forman said, their relationship was a “unique pleasure”, especially his “wit and wisdom at the Century Association to which he nominated me for membership when we both retired from the Foundation, on the presumption, as he put it, that I would ‘now have a place to have lunch’.”
Don Winkelman, an influential figure in the evolution of agricultural research and application in developing countries, died October 8 at his home in Santa Fe., N.M., at the age of 89.
He was a professor of economics at Iowa State University when, in 1966, he went to work at the Ford Foundation to help establish a graduate department in agricultural economics at the new Colegio de Postgraduados in Chapingo, Mexico, the first program of its type in that country.
Six years later he joined the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), where he was head of the center’s economics program as its first economist, pursuing the adoption of improved technologies and methods for effective on-farm research. He became its Director General in 1985 and served in that position until 1994.
The following year he became chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee of CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the world’s pre-eminent body working to “alleviate poverty and protect the environment in developing countries through improved agricultural technologies” by over-seeing the work of 16 international research centers, including CIMMYT.
Don’s wry sense of humor was a prominent part of his personality and legacy. He loved wordplay and created his own dictionary: paradigm, part of the United States currency; social capital, as in Texcoco, the social capital of Mexico; and international public goods, or what fell off the back of a truck at the border.
He is survived by his wife, Breege O’Reill-Winkelmann; his previous wife, Maki Winkelmann, and a son and two daughters.
Susan Bell Trowbridge, 78, died last July in Princeton, N.J. She was the wife of James Trowbridge, who worked at the Ford Foundation for more than 20 years at two separate times, primarily in international programs. She had been an elementary school teacher and then a feature writer for The Chicago Tribune before her marriage.
Her husband worked at the Foundation from 1963 to 1978 and again from 1988 to 1996, including postings to Foundation offices in the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru and to the headquarters building in New York City.
He worked in several positions, as head of the Africa and Middle East program; a consultant in the International Division; acting head of the Latin America and Caribbean office and variously a training associate, program advisor and representative in that area; a program officer in Arts and Culture, and a consultant in the Rural Poverty and Resources program.
She is survived by her husband, four sons and three sisters.
Robert Theodore Ward, who from 1965 to 1969 worked in the Foundation’s office in the Philippines, died January 11 at a hospice in Santa Barbara, Calif., at the age of 89.
Mr. Ward had gone to the Philippines initially to help edit a science textbook and remained to work on varied educational initiatives throughout the islands. After returning to this country, he taught in the department of science education at the University of Chicago and then taught physics and science education at the University of Northern Iowa before retiring.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Nina, and six children, including four stepchildren.
David E. Pfanner, a program officer in the Asia and Pacific office from 1962 to 1979, has died. He worked in the Bangkok office for several years in the 1970s.