Rutherford M. Poats

August 8, 1922November 10, 2020

Rutherford M. (Rud) Poats, a pioneering designer and director of international development programs, died at his home in New York City on November 10, 2020. Rud was born in Spartanburg, SC in 1922 and graduated from Emory University in 1942 before joining the Army, serving in the Philippines and Japan. He had a distinguished career as a journalist and international development and banking services expert and innovator over his nearly 50-year career spanning posts in Asia, Europe and Washington, D.C. Rud wrote the first published history of the Korean War, Decision in Korea, and headed the Far East Bureau of UPI in Tokyo. He entered civilian government service in 1961, rising through the ranks of the newly created Agency for International Development (AID) to become assistant administrator for the Far East and later Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator of the agency under Presidents Johnson and Nixon.

He took a fellowship at Brookings Institute where he wrote Technology for Developing Nations in 1972. He was a key driver in AID’s efforts to promote US Private investment, serving as the principal architect of the US Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC) and as its acting president in 1977.

In 1978 he moved to the National Security Council as an international economic policy advisor to President Carter and remained on the NSC staff during the first year of the Reagan administration. Rud was elected chairman of the OECD’s Economic Development Assistance Committee from 1982 – 85 in Paris, where he led reforms in aid management by bilateral and multilateral agencies, notably in strengthening program coordination in recipient countries, culminating in his authorship of Twenty-five Years of Development Cooperation. In 1986 he returned to Washington as a consultant to the World Bank in the design and launching of its new affiliate, the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency (MIGA), of which he was the interim chief at its inauguration in 1988. Rud finished his career as President of International Investment Services, where with other senior partners he advised governments on creating favorable climates for foreign investment and indigenous private enterprise.

Rud was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, the Asia Society, Japan Society, Korea Society and the hereditary Society of the Cincinnati. Rud took up painting and stone and wood sculpting in his retirement years, assisted wife Lea Sneider, now deceased, with her numerous Korean art exhibits, travelled extensively, and loved gathering with the family.

Rud is survived by four children from his first marriage to the late Esther Smith, including Penfield Thompson, Huntley Poats, Rutherford Poats and Grayson Poats, as well as five grandchildren and five great grandchildren, and his faithful, beloved caretakers, Boodnie Pandohie and Rangamah Ramgulan of New York, NY.


Rutherford M. Poats

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Rutherford Poats

November 21, 2020

The loss of a family patriarch, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, close friend and honorable citizen is not easily or adequately communicated, even by those very close to Rud/Papa.
The best tribute can come from a stranger, who mirrors and honors the memory, not by eloquence or a prepared eulogy, but by a gut reaction on hearing of Rud's passing. This was the case when Penny and I informed the branch manager at Rud's local Citibank location that he had passed. This kind man, Darren Ganesh, had served Rud on his feet, in his walker, scooter and in a wheelchair. When informed of Rud's passing, he wept and had to take a long minute to compose himself before he could serve us. It was a very genuine reaction to Rud's humanity and its imprint on him, and while emotionally painful, a wordless affirmation of Rud's essence from a completely unexpected source. Thank you Darren, you said it all.

William Rudolf

November 16, 2020

For the family of Rud Poats,
Rud and Leah were valued neighbors and friends when we lived at the Beresford.
We shared many evenings and late afternoons mostly in their apartment. We had a drink together and there was always something to "nash" .
We admired Leah's marvellous collection of Korean ceramics and enjoyed our conversations with Rud.
We appreciated them and valued their friendship.
When my wife, Edith, passed away, six years ago, the relationship lagged, which was my fault.
I moved out of New York three years ago.
Rud was an extraordinary person and had an elegance about him. At the same time he was modest about his career and unless he was pushed would not talk about his many accomplishments.
He will be missed.
All good wishes to his family.
Bill Rudolf

Vicki Levi

November 14, 2020

Mr Poats and his dear wife were wonderful neighbors and lovely people. My brother in law was with USAID for 25 years and Mr Poats was always interested in where he was posted.
I send his family my deepest condolences. Vicki Levi. Apt 21 F.