James Wolfensohn who is fondly known as the champion of the world’s poor due to his numerous reforms carried out when he was the President of World Bank for over a decade passes away at the age of 85. He was also a guiding light for various cultural institutions in the United States. According to the Institute of Advanced Study where he was the former chair of the board, Wolfensohn passed away on Wednesday at his house in Manhattan, New York. The news was also confirmed by his two daughters and one son in media reports.
The former World Bank president was born in Sydney, Australia, and worked for several years on Wall Street before taking up the position of the head at the prestigious institution in 1995. Bill Clinton, the president then nominated him to the role. During his time, he focused on giving attention to the priorities and needs of the countries carrying out projects and problems of corruption within the organisation’s development project. World Bank Group President David Malpass stated on Wednesday, “Throughout his time as the head, he led the institute to transformation, increasing decentralisation, improving technology in the Bank and making the organisation more transparent and open.” According to its website, the World Bank became the largest financiers of health, environment, AIDS programs, and primary education under his leadership.
Wolfensohn was also an avid art lover who in the 1980s served as the chair of New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, Washington in the first half of the 1990s. He also hosted cello performances with famous musician friends.
Wolfensohn’s wife passed away in August. Besides his 3 children, he is survived by 7 grandchildren.