Remembering Richard A. Debs

Bretton Woods Committee  | Tue, Feb 6, 2024


In Memorium

Richard 'Dick' A. Debs

1930 - 2024


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Richard A. Debs, former BWC Chairman and founding member. Dick's legacy at the Bretton Woods Committee is immeasurable, marked by his profound belief in the significance of the Bretton Woods institutions as forces for global peace and prosperity.

Instrumental in founding the BWC in 1983, Dick recognized the need for an influential public constituency for the Bretton Woods institutions. Over three decades of leadership, he steered the Committee to faithfully fulfill its role as a supportive public observer and strong and vocal advocate for international cooperation and the Bretton Woods institutions.

Dick's remarkable career included serving as COO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and founding President of Morgan Stanley International. A Ph.D. holder from Princeton University and graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, and the Fed’s principal contact with OPEC countries during the petrodollar crisis of the 70’s, Dick specialized in the Middle East issues. He served on numerous boards with notable leadership contributions to institutions including Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Institute of International Education, and the U.S-Saudi Business Council.

Dick’s words on the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference highlight his belief in the enduring value of their missions, stating, “it would be most timely, in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference, to recognize its long-proven value and further strengthen the policies, practices, and institutions that were inspired by the Bretton Woods mission of international cooperation.” His words exemplify his lasting commitment to multilateralism and serve as a reminder of the institutions' importance as he leaves his legacy during this year of the 80th anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions. 

The Bretton Woods Committee extends heartfelt condolences to Dick's wife, Barbara Knowles-Debs, his children Elizabeth Debs and Nicholas Debs, and their families. His impactful presence will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace. 

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