Richard A. Wich, who spent much of his career with the CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service and became an authority on Chinese-Soviet relations, died Sept. 17 at George Washington University Hospital. He was 79.
He had myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder, said his wife, Joyce Harmon.
Mr. Wich (pronounced “Wick”) held a graduate degree in philosophy and had a background in publishing when he responded in 1961 to a somewhat vague advertisement seeking people keen on overseas travel. It wound up being a job with the FBIS, which monitors news and information sources abroad.
During his 28-year career, he served as bureau chief in Tel Aviv, Vienna and Bangkok. His final assignment with FBIS was chief of the analysis group.
His first book, “Sino-Soviet Crisis Politics” (1980), was an examination of tensions arising between China and the Soviet Union after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and as China was emerging from the isolation of its Cultural Revolution.
Writing in the Journal of Asian Studies, the Sino-Soviet scholar William Mills of the University of Michigan called the book “an invaluable methodological guide” for analysts trying to forecast the actions of Chinese leaders based on their verbal warning signals. “He expertly weaves together the significance of secret behavior (revealed later) and public commentary to show the divergence between literal meaning and political connotation.”
His second book, “Becoming Asia: Change and Continuity in Asian International Relations Since World War II” (2011), was written with Alice L. Miller, a scholar of Chinese history and politics.
Richard Allen Wich was born in Muskogee, Okla., and raised in Tulsa. He was a 1955 graduate of the University of Texas, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received a master’s degree in philosophy from his alma mater in 1958.
He lectured on East Asian international relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in the 2000s.
He was a Washington Nationals season ticket holder since the team’s debut in 2005.
Survivors include his wife of 24 years, of Washington.
— Adam Bernstein
Stratton Barclay, who spent about 25 years as co-owner of Gardens to Order, a Washington area garden design business, died Sept. 16 at an assisted living home in Essex, Conn. She was 91.
The cause was a heart attack, said her son Peter McKillop.
Mrs. Barclay co-owned Gardens to Order from the mid-1970s to 2000 and afterward operated a landscape design consultancy. In earlier years, she accompanied her second husband to Brussels and Tunisia for his Foreign Service assignments. She maintained a home in Washington after moving to Essex in the early 2000s.
Edith Stratton Vance Nicolson was born in Washington, where her father was president of the old D.C. Paper Co. in Georgetown. Her paternal grandfather spent about 40 years as manager of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal before the federal government bought it in 1938.
Stratton Nicholson, as she was known, was a 1940 graduate of Western High School and a 1944 graduate of Connecticut College in New London.
She did volunteer work with Meals on Wheels and the now-defunct environmental activist organization Concern Inc. Her memberships included the Sulgrave Club and the Waltz Group of D.C., a social organization. She also belonged to garden clubs in Washington and was a bridge player.
Her first husband, Dwight Griswold, whom she married in 1946, died of polio in 1952. She was then married to David H. McKillop, a Foreign Service officer, from 1956 until his death in 1986. Her third husband, John Barclay, died in 2004 after four years of marriage.
Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Dwight S. Griswold of Brussels and Edith Griswold of Ivoryton, Conn.; three children from her second marriage, Peter McKillop and David H. McKillop Jr., both of Manhattan, and Alice Semler of San Francisco; 10 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
— Adam Bernstein