Among the 20 victims of the Aug. 19 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad was Rick Hooper, 40, (MAAS ’90) an Arab expert and Georgetown alumnus. Hooper was on leave from his job as Chief of Staff to the UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs.

Hooper, a native of Walnut Creek, Calif., grew up in Boise, Idaho and graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in politics. He then received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue Arab research and language studies in Syria, Egypt and the West Bank city of Ramallah. Afterwards, Hooper attained his master’s degree in Arabic Studies from Georgetown University and later joined the United Nations, working in its Relief and Works Agency offices in Austria, Norway and the Gaza Strip.

Described in some news reports as “the United Nations’ chief expert on Arab affairs,” Hooper entered Georgetown’s Arab studies master’s program (MAAS) in 1988 on a rare full graduate scholarship. During his years in Washington, D.C., Hooper served as the MAAS representative to the Graduate Student Organization and interned for a semester in New York at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

“His stellar academic performance throughout the [MAAS] program was accompanied by a clear activist bent,” MAAS Academic Programs Coordinator Liz Kepferle said.

Hooper was also politically involved before entering Georgetown. While in high school in Idaho, he volunteered for the late Sen. Frank Church’s (D-Idaho)1980 reelection campaign and later worked for then-Senator Al Gore (D-Tenn.) and on then-Idaho governor John B. Evans’ (D-Idaho) Senate campaign.

“He was an excellent scholar,” George Klein, former Democratic Party Chairman and Church’s 1980 campaign manager, told the Idaho Statesman. “It’s a tragedy because he was such a heck of a nice kid. He was unusually bright, smarter than his years.”

UN Director of Communications and its chief speech writer, Edward Mortimer, had worked closely with Hooper and remembered him as “shrewd, witty, great company, a great colleague. He’s one of those people who would have gone far, whether he stayed at the UN or had gone elsewhere . His death is a great loss.”

“He’s the one I looked up to more than anybody,” Hooper’s younger brother Drake told Idaho 2 News Television. “The hard part is that if I have a question or if I need advice or anything I can’t call him now.”

“Rick is one death among thousands in the Middle East,” Hooper’s father Christopher added. “I don’t know if there is going to be a solution there in our time. I hope there is. I know that Rick was working for it.”

Hooper is also survived by his mother, Elizabeth Peak of ountain View, Calif., and his grandmother, Eileen Hooper of Rossmoor, Calif.

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