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Richard N. Blue

June 21, 1936 ~ June 22, 2022

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 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,86, a charismatic thought leader, 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 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 memorial service will be held in the Washington D.C. area in early fall 2022, arrangements for which may be found closer to the date at or

***A special note from Susan to her beloved, Richard: “Richard, you have been my life’s companion on the longest journey I have ever taken; you have been my friend, my lover, my confidant, my colleague, my partner and my family. You were gracious to let me be free, as well as to be my steady center, and to love and accept me exactly as who I am. I cannot think of a greater gift in life. I thank you and I love you. Rest in Peace and Love”


Lannie Elderkin and Tom Bragg

July 6, 2022, 2:46 pm

Richard Blue, dear to our hearts and beloved by so many. It is difficult to conceive of a world without Richard and we cannot do so because there is such a rich trove of memories, stories and shared experiences. It seems fitting to thank Jimmy Carter, since had he not decided to run for the presidency, I would not have met Susan and, consequently, Richard, and so forth. We embrace Susan and the family.

Mark Ellis

July 9, 2022, 8:02 am

In the early 1990s, Richard headed the US gov review of the American Bar Association’s CEELI program. I was the director then. He was incredibly smart, capable and, most importantly, fair. Despite his background and position, he had no ego. He treated everyone with dignity and kindness. Although I never ran into Richard again I still remember him as a remarkably gifted person. He will be missed and he made his mark in life.

Richard Herskowitz

July 12, 2022, 2:49 pm

During the last ten years of his life, Richard devoted considerable energy to assuring that the contributions of his brother, James, to film history were not forgotten. Along with his son Dan and others, I worked alongside Richard as James Blue’s archive went to the University of Oregon, the film “The Olive Trees of Justice” was re-released in New York and nationally, a documentary “Citizen Blue” was completed, and “The March” was restored and recognized, through screenings and an expansive online exhibition, as a vital record of the Civil Rights movement. Richard’s devotion to his brother and his work propelled these accomplishments, with more to come in the near future. I will never forget this extraordinary man.

Carole Frederick

July 13, 2022, 6:55 pm

From Susan to me:

“I read this to Richard on his last days. He was semi conscious but hearing is the last sense to go thru say. If course, I’m not sure he had his hearing aids on! In any case I think it’s lovely and would encourage you to post it on the millennium obituary site.”

Love, Susan

My dear Richard,

Through the years we have known each other, I do remember that I always professed my awe and love for you. I’m pretty sure you always knew the great admiration and love I have for you and Susan.

Now, I find it important to again to remind you of my caring and affection.
And I wish to thank you for allowing me to share and know you. You taught me so much about people in our world, opened me to an understanding of world politics; you made me think.

I remember how you shared your love and angst of your brother and showed how to honor him and his work.

In the early days, you set a rhythm with Susan. You taught me that marriage is as important as one’s freedom to be. Your marriage stayed strong as you both pursued fulfilling work and interests.

You are tall, stately. Yet, you are gentle, fair minded and inclusive. Brilliant. No one ever felt unwelcome when visiting Greenspring. Certainly not me.

You are the Greenspring in my life. Always flowing and sharing a pure and clear friendship and generosity, clean air and expansive magnificent views.

I truly love you, my friend Richard Blue.


Jack Sullivan

August 9, 2022, 3:37 pm

Hearing of the death of Richard was like having a point of light in life suddenly extinguished. Our friendship over the years meant a great deal. He was wise mentor. My first meeting with Richard was in 1974, when I was about to give a talk to USAID staff about reforms. He warned the audience would be hostile. I scoffed. He was right and I took a beating. Fast forward to my last meeting with him in 2015 some 41 years later. Richard patiently pointed out that my evaluation of a USAID project in Armenia was infirm and needed fixing. Again he was right. Those are bookends on many memories of Richard I shall continue to cherish.

Donna Evers

August 15, 2022, 2:21 pm

There is an old-fashioned expression that refers to very special people as ” a gentleman and a scholar.” It doesn’t fit very many people, but it is a perfect way to describe Richard Blue. I feel very lucky to have been a friend and neighbor to Richard and Susan.

Susan Holloran

August 15, 2022, 2:31 pm

I will be hosting a celebration of life for Richard at home in Virginia on September 24th. If you would like to attend please send me an email at
My thanks to all of you who are leaving such touching messages here.

Poonsook Pantitanonta

September 3, 2022, 4:44 am

Dear Khun Susan,
I just learned the sad news yesterday. Please accept my belated and deepest condolence to Dr. Blue. He was one of my great boss who given me great opportunities to learn new things and built my extended career with The Asia Foundation. He had always given good advice, guidance and caring to all TAF staff during his leadership at TAF. I enjoyed every moment working with Dr. Blue. I hope that I would have a chance to visit him and Khun Susan some day when I had a chance to go to the US but it never come. I wish I could be there at the celebration of life for Dr. Blue, but my heart will be there.

Cheryl Burge

September 3, 2022, 4:49 pm

My sincere condolences to Susan and family. Losing Richard is a tremendous loss and he will be greatly missed but he had an extraordinary journey and left wonderful memories to live in our hearts.
I didn’t know Richard long enough but the short time I knew him he made quite an impression. A wonderful story teller and always cheerful with a twinkle in his eye. Charming and delightful we shared delicious meals and stimulating conversations during his visits to Florida. I will always be grateful to the O’Neil’s for introducing he and Susan into my world.

Rattana Lao

September 5, 2022, 6:13 pm

I never had the honor of meeting Dr. Blue but as I work with The Asia Foundation in Thailand, I realized the important work he did for this country – building, fostering and nurturing a legacy of friendship through foreign assistance. I wish his soul Rest In Peace and I send my condolences to his loving family.

Charles (and Kristen) Lankester

September 12, 2022, 3:14 pm

Richard was an extraordinary and generous man. Tributes from the State Department may be a little “traditional” so I hope there will be mention of Richard’s discretion and wisdom in sometimes bending his terms of reference. In Thailand he provided the Mekong Committee with invaluable support to train desperately needed water lawyers in the Lower States. At the time there were serious pressures on the Mekong River from upstream and growing damage to the delta requiring legal expertise for mitigation. Susan contributed her training skills to my staff as well. They were a great team.

Betsy white

September 14, 2022, 12:50 am

My tenure at the Asia Foundation coincided with Dick’s for a few years. He was admired and respected by all his colleagues, Asian and American. My deepest sympathies to Susan and the family. Betsy White

Bill Anderson and Kate Delaney

September 26, 2022, 5:28 pm

Bill Anderson and Kate Delaney.

I met Richard when I joined USAID in 1979 after working six years for Congressman Clarence Long (D-2nd; Maryland) on foreign aid appropriations. I was facing a major transition from the Congress to USAID, where I had originally wanted to work when I arrived in Washington in late 1972. On arriving in Washington, I had found that USAID was under one of its periodic hiring freezes, and so I ended up on the Hill.

When I arrived in USAID to be part of the Office of Evaluation in the Program and Policy Coordination Bureau (PPC) and after a few months settled in working for Richard in the Studies Division, Richard’s welcoming, calm, supportive, and confident management enabled me to make a successful transition from my previous years as a Congressional staffer. My 2 years working for Richard was my most exciting, interesting (even fascinating), challenging, and rewarding period in the Agency. It was the best possible way to begin in USAID. And those two years launched me on a fulfilling 35+ years working on international development.

As Duan knows, as time went by, I continued to seek his counsel in making other transitions. Visiting you all in Bluemont was always a pleasure and a way to recharge. I am and will remain bereft without Richard.

I know this is nothing compared to your sorrow, but I hope my words bring you some comfort.

Jim Jackson

September 16, 2023, 7:37 pm

I am not quite sure what led me to google Professor Blue’s name today but in doing so I was so sad to hear of his passing in 2022. My condolences to his family. He was one of my favorite teachers at the University of Minnesota.
I signed up to take a course, my junior year named, “Southeast Asia Politics.” Viet Nam was hot topic at the college in 1968 and I thought I should a course to learn something a country I may be going to upon my graduation. I had a low draft lottery number. Luckily it was a misprint in the class schedule, and I was enrolled in “South Asia Politics.”
We were lucky to have a South Asia Library at Minnesota so I took every course, Professor Blue taught and he asked me if he could be my Advisor. I agreed and wrote my 50-page senior thesis named, “Partisan Party Politics in Uttar Pradesh.” I received a high grade and Professor Blue actually used part of my paper in an article he was writing. That was the high point in my college career.
Rest in Peace, my trusted Advisor.

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