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Thomas Böcking

(Germany & University 1970) (11 February 1943 - 20 February 2023)

The Rhodes Trust is deeply sad to hear of the passing of Thomas Böcking (Germany and University 1970). Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Oxford, Rhodes House, and University College were formative places for Thomas. He felt lucky to be able to give his service and experience back to a place that had given him so much, and where he had spent the first year of his long, happy married life. Thomas returned to Oxford frequently and gladly throughout his remarkable 31 years of service as the German National Secretary. In this, as in everything else he did, he was one half of a truly exceptional double act, together with his wife Silvia. They were especially close to Rhodes House Warden Robin Fletcher and his wife Jinny, but also spoke with great affection (and a little awe) of Warden Bill and Gillian Williams. His work as the German National Secretary was a source of pride, joy, and fulfilment for Thomas, and so were the many visits, cards, and emails over the years from German alumni and alumnae, up until his last days. Si momentum requiris, circumspice.

American Secretary Elliot Gerson (Connecticut and Magdalen 1974) says of Thomas: “He was a remarkable man and a dear friend to many, and I'm privileged to be one of those".

David Francis (University 1970) writes: "He had both a gentleness of spirit and great strength of character. He had a keen intellect, but more than that he was wise. And all of that was balanced by a wonderful sense of humour, personal warmth, and a total lack of pretence. We were privileged to have had him as a friend."

In 2011, Thomas was recognised as a “Distinguished Friend of Oxford” for his services to the University, and in 2013 he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande

(the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) which is awarded for special achievements in political, economic, cultural, intellectual or honorary fields.


May he rest in peace.

Elizabeth Kiss                                                              Nils Oermann

Warden and CEO of the Rhodes Trust                    National Secretary, Rhodes Scholarships for Germany