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Peter Bocock; World Bank Economist Fought Poverty

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peter Wainwright Bocock, a retired senior economist with the World Bank whose policy development and speech writing helped shape global poverty reduction efforts for more than three decades, died Nov. 16 at Washington Hospital Center after heart bypass surgery. He was 65.

Mr. Bocock's professional career spanned six continents and scores of countries. He was a wordsmith and strategist behind world leaders and international policymakers and held key positions in several World Bank offices from 1968 to 2004, when he retired.

Early in his career, he contributed to British politics and international development initiatives while working behind the scenes for then-Prime Minister Edward Heath. In the late 1960s and early '70s, he worked with then-World Bank President Robert S. McNamara as the bank's youngest-ever division chief. He also served closely with a later bank president, James D. Wolfensohn, on World Trade Organization and Middle East issues.

Mr. Bocock was deeply involved with global poverty reduction and Middle East peace efforts and dedicated well over a decade of his career to improving conditions in Jordan and its neighboring countries. At the World Bank, he was a major contributor to the design and supervision of a large-scale education reform program, a social fund project to assist the poor and a diagnostic report that examined Jordan's export capabilities.

Tufan Kolan, a former portfolio manager at the World Bank and a longtime colleague, wrote in an e-mail that Mr. Bocock helped draft hundreds of bank documents.

"Peter was sought by the best and brightest in the Bank because of his exceptional mind and depth of analytical, strategic thinking. He wrote clearly, simply and with focus. . . . Substance, logic and precise expression were the pillars of Peter's work."

Peter Bocock was born in Bramhope, near Leeds in Yorkshire, England. He moved to Canada in 1954, when his father's job took the family to Toronto. His family returned to England in 1960, the year he went to Magdalen College at Oxford University. He studied philosophy, politics and economics and received a bachelor's degree with first-class honors.

He married in 1966 and moved with his wife to Washington two years later. They arrived the week the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and moved into their Georgetown house the week Robert F. Kennedy was shot.

He returned to England in 1971 at the request of Heath, the new prime minister. Three years later, he settled once again in Washington.

At the World Bank, he wrote major speeches in the 1990s during the Middle East peace process; drafted Wolfensohn's 1999 speech to the WTO in Seattle, which was a comprehensive statement on the issues of trade and development; and was an early architect of the bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy Initiative.

Mr. Bocock was active in St. Thomas' Parish, an Episcopal church in Dupont Circle.

He enjoyed reading, from poetry to politics to thrillers; writing; listening to classical music; and spending time with his family.

Survivors include his wife, Victoria "Vicky" Bocock of Washington; two children, Piers Bocock of Takoma Park and Claudia Bocock of Washington; a sister; and three grandsons.

-- Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb

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