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Richard Sabot

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WILLIAMSTOWN -- Richard H. Sabot, 61, a scholar, teacher, entrepreneur and adventurer who was committed to worldwide social and economic change, died Wednesday at North Adams Regional Hospital after being stricken earlier in the day in Williamstown.

Mr. Sabot was co-founder and chairman of the board of Tripod Inc., an Internet venture that he started with two of his Williams students, and one of the first dot.coms. Success Magazine called him the Johnny Appleseed of the New Philanthropy.

He was the John J. Gibson professor emeritus of economics at Williams College, where he began teaching in 1984.

Born in New York City on Feb. 16, 1944, son of Arnold and Victoria Gomberg Sabot, he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he rowed crew and stroked the Men's Lightweight Eight. He studied in England at Oxford, where he was both a Fulbright and Thouron scholar and a Kent Fellow, and rowed for the Pembroke College crew, competing several times at the Henley Royal Regatta. He lived in England for many years while receiving his doctorate in economics.

Mr. Sabot was recruited from Oxford University by Robert McNamara and Hollis Chenery to join the research staff of the World Bank, where he spent 10 years; later, he returned as senior economic adviser. He was also senior economic adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank and senior fellow of the International Food Policy Research Institute.

He also taught economics at Columbia, Oxford and Yale universities.

In 1998, following the sale of Tripod to Lycos Inc., he joined the latter's board of directors. He was also a member of the board of Village Ventures Inc., which provides financial, administrative and strategic services to a proprietary nationwide network of 16 early-stage venture capital funds, and co-founder and chairman of the board of Eziba Inc., a small company selling handcrafted goods from artisans worldwide.

He was chairman of the board of Geekcorps, a private nonprofit organization committed to expanding the Internet revolution internationally by pairing skilled volunteers from the high-tech world with small businesses in emerging nations. And after a merger, he served on the board of the International Executive Service Corps.

He was a founding member of the executive committee of the Center for Global Development, a new Washington-based think tank dedicated to reducing global poverty and inequality through policy-oriented research and active engagement on development issues.

He wrote dozens of journal articles and wrote or edited a dozen books on the economics of development, ranging from urban migration in Africa to economic growth and equity in East Asia, from the relationship of education to productivity in South Asia, and to policy reform and equitable growth in Latin America. His research was supported by grants from the Rockefeller, Danforth, Ford, MacArthur and Mellon foundations, and the Pew Memorial Trust.

Mr. Sabot enjoyed fly fishing in the North Woods of Maine.

At the time of his death, he and his family and Cricket Creek Farm crew were in the process of creating an ecologically sound dairy, raising heritage breed cows on grass and producing high quality artisanal cheeses.

He and his wife, the former Judith Plunkett, were married Sept. 6, 1969, in Hamden, Conn.

Besides his wife, he leaves two sons, Topher Sabot of Montana and Oliver Sabot of Washington, D.C.; two daughters, Julia Sabot, at home, and Diana Sabot Whitney of Brattleboro, Vt., and a sister, Ann Sabot Leibowitz of Chester, N.Y.

FUNERAL NOTICE -- There will be an open gathering to honor Dick Sabot at Cricket Creek Farm on Oblong Road, Williamstown, on Sunday, July 17, at 1 p.m. Williams College will host a memorial service later in the fall. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Dick Sabot Memorial Fund, which will be used to support causes dear to Dick's heart and his vision. Contributions may be sent to: The Dick Sabot Memorial Fund, c/o Cricket Creek Farm, 1331 Oblong Road, Williamstown, MA 01267. Survivors include a son-in-law, Timothy Whitney, and his midget black lab dog, Maggie. FLYNN & DAGNOLI-MONTAGNA HOME FOR FUNERALS, West Chapels, 521 West Main St., North Adams, MA 01247, is in charge of arrangements. He also leaves his son-in-law, Tim Whitney. He was a brilliant teacher who inspired and mentored his students, weaving humor and life experiences into his lectures, and deriving deep satisfaction from the learning process of others. Mr. Sabot's equally great passion was his family. He was a playful man and a self-described optimist, a loving husband to his wife, Judith, and a devoted father to their four children, Diana, Topher, Oliver and Julia, as well as their midget black lab, Maggie.

Published in The Berkshire Eagle on July 10, 2005
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