Circa 1960 - In Thailand, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Dick Heyward arrives at the airport in Bangkok.
NEW YORK, 4 August 2005 – UNICEF today mourned the passing of Dick Heyward, a beloved and influential senior statesman for UNICEF for more than 30 years.
Heyward, who retired from UNICEF in 1981, died Wednesday in Long Island, New York, after a long illness. He was 90 years old.
“Dick Heyward was truly one of the giants of UNICEF’s history,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Thursday. “He was a man of extraordinary dedication and drive and he had a profound influence on UNICEF. His legacy lives on in UNICEF today.”
As UNICEF’s Senior Deputy Executive Director from 1949 to 1981, Heyward was considered the intellectual powerhouse behind much of UNICEF’s policy and programmatic thinking during his years with the organization.
With his career spanning the tenure of UNICEF’s first three executive directors, Heyward was regarded as having made a great and sustained contribution on behalf of the world’s children.
Born on his family’s apple farm in Tasmania, Australia, on September 22, 1914, E.J. R. Heyward was educated in Tasmania and at the London School of Economics. From 1947 to 1949, he was the first secretary to the Australian Mission to the United Nations, during which he served as the Australian representative on UNICEF’s executive board. In April 1949, Heyward was appointed UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director in Charge of Operations, and in 1975 was appointed Senior Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF with the rank of Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations.
Heyward was a leading figure in the formation and development of UNICEF’s major policies and strategies, many of which not only determined UNICEF’s operations but also influenced international development concepts and practices. Key among his numerous influential theories were his belief that children’s needs cannot be effectively tackled in isolation from services benefitting families and communities and that policies and programmes benefitting children become more effective when they form part of national development efforts.
Heyward combined supremacy over day-to-day operations with unchallenged intellectual leadership. He worked tirelessly, never losing sight of UNICEF’s mandate to do better for the world’s children. A modest and unassuming man, Heyward was known as someone who talked little but spoke volumes.
Lauding Heyward in 1981, then UNICEF Executive Director James Grant called him “a living monument to everything for which UNICEF stands.” Grant said that “every good and brave endeavor for which UNICEF has earned worldwide applause has been touched by his mind and by his hand.”
Heyward was a voracious and eclectic reader and a devotee and connoisseur of Renaissance painting and classical music. Mostly, though, he lived and breathed UNICEF.
After retiring officially, Heyward undertook numerous missions to Africa for UNICEF, WHO, and The World Bank. His work took him to Tanzania, Sudan, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Rwanda, Zaire, and Mozambique. Until he suffered a stroke in 1997, at the age of 82, he was still traveling to Africa several times a year. And he kept up a keen interest in UNICEF's activities right to the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife Elisabeth, a retired interpreter at the United Nations; his sons Andrew (President of CBS News in New York) and Peter (a lawyer at Venable LLP in Washington DC); and seven grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are private.
“UNICEF extends its heartfelt sympathies to Heyward’s family,” Veneman said.