Richard Leslie Hooper


October 12, 2023

Richard Leslie Hooper passed away at his home in Vancouver, Washington, on Saturday, September 16, 2023. Born on August 8, 1941 in Spearfish, South Dakota, to Richard and Redell (East) Hooper.

The second of seven children, Rich grew up in Sundance, Wyoming. He was nurtured by a small community that included nearly all of his relatives and the particular magic of the Black Hills, influences he would feel all his life.

After graduating from Sundance High School in 1959, Rich attended the University of Wyoming and graduated with a masters degree in Statistics in 1964. He married Mary Ellen Ellsberry and they moved their growing family to Richland, Washington, where Rich joined the statistics group at Pacific Northwest Laboratories.

He would eventually manage and expand that group to become a leading statistics group in the country.

Life rolled along and in 1980 Rich moved to the Seattle area. In 1981 he married Myra Sue "Suzy" Bayless. In 1982, they moved to Vienna, Austria, Rich working on loan to the Cost-free Experts Program for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations in the pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation safeguards.

They returned to Seattle for three years and then back to Vienna from 1988-1998. That was the time of Rich's most important professional work.

He started as section head, reviving another statistics group. He ended as Director of Concepts and Planning.

The work itself included analyzing findings in North Korea, South Africa and Iraq. He participated in and led many inspections in Iraq, destroying their nuclear program.

The knowledge he had gained and his discipline and particular way of thinking made him a technical architect of the badly needed upgrade to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Providing and advocating for the technical, scientific basis for the Additional Protocol and its implementation was an enormous undertaking, but Rich saw it as an opportunity for which he had long prepared. He was highly regarded as a non-proliferation expert and received international awards and recognition.

Rich traveled the globe from Europe to China to Argentina to South Africa and many spots in between, passionate about providing the highest quality safeguards against the proliferation of nuclear material. He was a scientist, not a politician, but he communicated his case so political decisions could be made that have kept us all safer.

In 2005, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Rich's group – IAEA – and Mohamed ElBaradei from Egypt for their extraordinary efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and ensure that it would be used for peaceful purposes.

By the time the Additional Protocol was adopted, Rich was ready for a rest. He and Suzy moved Stateside to the high plains of Wyoming.

Rich worked as a consultant to countries, especially Japan, as they prepared their nuclear programs to implement the new requirements. He consulted for IAEA and taught classes to the inspectors doing the work on the ground.

He taught classes to graduate students of international studies. Rich's science was only part of his career. He was a good boss. People wanted to work for him and with him and to be taught by him. His dry sense of humor was legend.

Rich's hobbies had been finding something interesting and immersing himself in it. He loved things someone made by hand like glass, ceramics, carpets, wine, good food, music, writing. He appreciated authenticity and dedication to a craft. Rich was fluent in the Wyoming dialect – few words, delivered slowly.

He loved his international friends and colleagues and was so pleased to have had his world view expanded. He liked knowing history and cultures, and living in that international community in Vienna fit that perfectly. His guiding philosophy was summarized well by the Desiderata, a copy of which hung in his office or at home for at least the last 42 years.

In 2004 Rich and Suzy moved to Vancouver with a grandson in tow. Rich viewed it a gift to be moving to Vancouver to get to know his granddaughters and to help raise his grandson. It was an affirmation of the power of "Hooperness" for him to see them bright, intense, kind and creative.

Rich is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Suzy; by his much-loved children, Bret and his wife Cathy, Scot, Heidi and Michael and his partner, Raven; by his treasured grandchildren, Kayleigh Moore and her husband Marc, Anna, Samantha and Mathias; by five brothers and sisters, Lindsay and Candy (Wilson, Wyoming), Bruce and Tammy (Laramie, Wyoming), Jill Hartman (Sundance), Lisa and Arnie Griffith (Buffalo, Wyoming), Karol Scott (Buffalo) and generations of nieces and nephews; by his in-laws; by his cats. Brother, David, preceded in death.

We are grateful to have been loved by this man of such high integrity, sense of humor and perspective. He was always drawn to a good story, to tell or to hear.

For all his achievement, Rich was a humble man. You weren't going to learn of his adventures from him unless you asked. You are welcome to visit the webpage to add your stories of him or read some more.

Rich just wanted us to take care of each other. "What's so hard about that?!" A great way to send him off would be to go out of your way for someone else with Rich in mind. He would be greatly honored.


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