Robert B. Keating, former World Bank executive, dies at 87

March 15, 2012

Robert B. Keating, 87, an international development consultant who became U.S. executive director of the World Bank after serving as ambassador to the African countries of Madagascar and the Comoros from 1983 to 1986, died March 4 in the District. He had pneumonia.

The death was confirmed by his daughter, Anne B. Keating. Her father was a Washington resident and had lived most recently at the Residences at Thomas Circle retirement community in the District.

Mr. Keating was the U.S. executive director of the World Bank from 1986 to 1989. He represented the United States on the board of directors of the World Bank Group, which is presided over by the bank’s president. He then returned to international consulting until retiring in 2008.

Robert Brendon Keating was born in Medford, Mass., to Irish immigrants. He was in the Class of 1947 at the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis and graduated a year early through an accelerated program. He was a veteran of the Korean War and achieved the rank of lieutenant commander before leaving the military soon after the war.

In 1961, Mr. Keating received a master’s degree in engineering administration from George Washington University. He then was an international development consultant, heading a technical cooperation program in Chile from 1964 to 1967 and directing road projects in what was the African country of Zaire in the early 1970s.

In the early 1980s, he was an American delegate to the Law of the Sea treaty, which the U.S. then declined to sign. Despite controversy over Mr. Keating’s correspondence with mining companies while serving as a delegate, the Senate confirmed his nomination to serve as President Reagan’s ambassador to Madagascar and the Comoros.

His wife, Virginia Wellborn Keating, whom he married in 1959, died in 2006. Survivors include a daughter, Anne B. Keating of New York City; a twin sister; and a granddaughter.

— Adam Bernstein