Richard Warren Wheeler, Former CSWR Advisory Board Member and Chairman, 1929-2020

April 20, 2020
Richard Wheeler with the Dalai Lama
Richard Wheeler with the Dalai Lama on a visit to Harvard./ Photo Credit: Alice Owens Wheeler.

Richard Warren Wheeler,

February 8, 1929-April 20, 2020

CSWR Advisory Board Member and Chairman, 1974-1989

The CSWR celebrates the life and contributions of longtime Advisory Board member Richard Warren Wheeler who died April 20, 2020 at the age of 91. Rick was a friend of CSWR and longtime Advisory Board Member. His family has contributed the following information.  

Richard Warren Wheeler, 91, longtime Concord resident, died at his home on April 20, 2020, surrounded by family. Both his long, accomplished career and his personal life were hallmarked by his characteristic passionate spirit, irrepressible curiosity, and an inclusive, thoughtful and caring manner.

Born in Boston on February 8, 1929, he was the son of the late Wilfrid Wheeler Jr. and Sybil Constance (Leckenby) Wheeler. Rick joined First National City Bank (now Citibank) after graduation from Williams College, and in 1953 he and his wife Betty Ann went to Asia for their first overseas assignment. For 16 years, the family lived in Hong Kong, Manila, and Tokyo. In 1968, Rick became vice president in the field for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He was promoted to Citibank headquarters in New York in 1969 and, as a senior vice president in charge of the Asia-Pacific division, he supervised the expansion of Citibank’s presence in the Pacific region. He became the head of the International Banking Group, and later moved to the office of the chairman until he retired in 1982.

Rick served as executive vice president of the Asia Society in New York from 1982 to 1984. He then became president of the Asian International Bank, later the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which he led until 1990, spearheading its global expansion. Rick was invited to join the Council on Foreign Relations and was a refugee policy adviser to the State Department in 1982. He was selected for and listed in Who’s Who in America.

Rick joined the Episcopal Church while living in Manila and remained active in local Episcopal churches throughout his career, including Holy Trinity in Manila, Saint Alban’s in Tokyo, Christ Church in Bronxville, NY, and Trinity Episcopal in Concord. While in New York, Rick also served the national Episcopal Church, chairing the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (now Episcopal Relief & Development).

A keen student of both his chosen faith tradition and others, Rick pursued interfaith efforts ranging from chairing the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School to participating in Concord’s Clergy-Laity Group.

He is survived by his wife Betty Ann, his children and their spouses, Emily, Susan and Constantine, Thomas and Sandy, Alice and Debianne, Sarah and Eric, and grandchildren Barrett and Clara. Rick was predeceased by his older brother, Lt. Wilfrid Wheeler III, a US Navy pilot, who went missing in action in 1953 during the Korean conflict; and his step-sister, Shirley Melvin Leavell.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary (Mass Audubon); PO Box 235, Cummaquid, MA 02630; Barnstable Land Trust; 1540 Main Street, West Barnstable MA 02668; or Episcopal Relief & Development. P.O. Box 7058 Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

See also: Announcement, CSWR