The first American identified as a victim of the suicide bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad once lived in Boise and worked for the late Sen. Frank Church.
Richard Hooper, a 40-year-old Arab expert and U.N. veteran from Walnut Creek, Calif., died in the terrorist attack that also killed the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 19 others, and injured more than 100 other people.
Hooper grew up in Idaho, graduating from Capital High School, said his father, Christopher Hooper of Stanley, who served five terms as a state legislator beginning in 1978..
"He was a good student and a good kid. We camped out near Stanley a lot, " his father said. "It's just a waste."
Hooper was a volunteer for Church's 1980 campaign. Hooper would then have been about 17.
"He was our Rick Hooper, " said Bethine Church, the late senator's widow. "I remember him as a bright kid and a good kid. I just hate it that he was one of those who were killed."
George Klein, former Democratic Party chairman and Church's 1980 campaign manager, said Hooper attended college in California.
"He was an excellent scholar, " Klein said. "It's a tragedy because he was such a heck of a nice kid. He was unusually bright, smarter than his years. I'm sure he was a great asset to the U.N."
Hooper, known by his nickname "Rick, " was on leave from his job as special assistant to U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast, the U.N.'s top political expert.
"He was shrewd, witty, great company, a great colleague, " said Edward Mortimer, the U.N.'s director of communications and chief speech writer who worked closely with Hooper. "He's one of those people who would have gone far, whether he stayed at the U.N. or had gone elsewhere. ... His death is a great loss."
His 87-year-old grandmother, Eileen Hooper, who lives in Rossmoor, Calif., said she last saw Hooper in late June when he took her to her 70th high school reunion.
"He was very kind to everybody, " she said. "All my grands are special, but Rick was with me when my husband died, so that made us closer."
Eileen Hooper said her grandson received mail at her address because he moved around so often.
Hooper joined the United Nations in 1990, working with the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees. He then worked with the U.N. Office for Project Services and in the office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen.
Hooper was in Arabic studies at Georgetown and was fluent in Arabic. His first job for the United Nations was on the Gaza Strip.
Hooper is survived by his mother, Elizabeth Peak of Mountain View, Calif.; his father, Christopher Hooper; and a sister in Colorado, according to Eileen Hooper.