Charles K. Rowley has passed away

I don’t have much in the way of details, but I do know that he had been working on a biography of James M. Buchanan.  I don’t know how far along that project was.  Here is Charles on


Dr. Rowley was my adviser and the chairman of my Ph.D. committee. This is a shocking and sad news for me. Dr. Rowley was a longtime editor-in-chief of Public Choice magazine. Needless to say he was a public choice researcher in his own right, but his editorial skills and pursuit of perfection in published works were equally remarkable. The "Selected Works of Gordon Tullock" series (edited by him) had an introduction written by him in each volume, and each and every one of these little articles is skillfully crafted, highly informative, with a view on the historical context of the book or papers in the volume, and should I say, even fun to read. I know he had been working on the biography of Buchanan, and with his longtime colleagueship and proximity with Dr. Buchanan, as well as his familiarity with the history of not only Dr. Buchanan himself but the entire history of public choice, I am sure it will be a scholarly and monumental work; I just wish he had finished most of the work and it can be published posthumously.

Words cannot express my sorrow, rest in peace, Dr. Rowley!

Dr. Rowley was my supervisor when I did my reserch as a visiting scholar in GMU from 2010-2011. He was an extraordinary scholar with great patience to me. I was shocked by the sad news, Dr. Rowley was still working on his blog on July 14. Howard, if you have any information about his wife, Marjorie Rowley, please let me. I don't have email of her. Thank you.


If you wish to contact Mrs. Rowley and her family, please email me at: howiewu1 _AT_ gmail _DOT_ com.


My brief tribute to Professor Rowley:

He was influential on me at a pivotal time: I happened to meet with him in Fairfax during my last undergraduate year, when he was still the Director of Graduate Studies. Rowley was entirely frank with me. He pointed to my areas of strengths and weaknesses, and did so with a convincing wisdom and dignity. That half-hour conversation gave me some much needed confidence, and it prompted me to audit Edgar Browning's graduate public finance class, which prepared me for the rigors of ph.d. work. He remained supportive, and critical, throughout my graduate years and beyond.

I only interacted with Charles Rowley during my first year or so of coursework. I was in a different department but crossed over into Econ & took his public choice classes to add a methodological framework for historical analysis. The genesis of my dissertation came in a paper I wrote for him. While it developed in new and different ways from there, I owe a heavy debt of gratitude for his early encouragement and suggestions. He was also one of the most lively and entertaining lecturers I've ever encountered.

I will add my voice to the chorus. I was desperately trying to get traction on my dissertation at GMU when I approached Dr. Rowley and asked for his help. (He had shown interest in my field during a previous class.) To my surprise, he immediately stepped in as my dissertation advisor. We met at his home and he helped me craft a plan for completion. His only requirement was that I put "something new on the table" every week. I did this: sometimes it was 20 pages, sometimes only two, but I always put something new on the table each week. We met every Monday morning for a year and a half. At the end of that period, I had my Ph.D.

In the acknowledgements section of my dissertation, I wrote that there was still one thing I could not understand. Dr. Rowley knew more about Gordon Tullock than anyone else; he spent his career explaining to undergraduates that positive costs plus zero benefits implies "don't bother." Yet every week, Dr. Rowley incurred positive costs in reading my work, criticizing it (constructively!), and helping me improve it... with no accompanying benefits. Why did he do this? I cannot explain it, but I am very grateful for it.

(Yes, yes, he probably received psychic benefits from helping me... I do understand that. Don't ruin my poetry with pedantry.)

Dr. Rowley helped me when I needed it. The world has lost a good man... and I lament that I will never get to read the book on Buchanan on which I knew he had been working. Rest in peace, Dr. Rowley.

I, too, owe a deep debt to Dr. Rowley. As Ricardo mentioned, he was generous with his time and tenacious in defending those of us he took under his wing. He was exacting, supportive and a man of his word. I wish I could have repaid him, wish that he had had longer on this earth. The best I can do is to pass along his generosity with my own students, hope to give to them what Dr. Rowley gave to me. I believe that's what he would have most wanted. RIP Dr. Rowley.

Dr Charles Rowley taught me Economics as one of 'The First 500' undergraduates at the 'nascent' University of Kent at Canterbury back in 1965-8.
I remember him as so dynamic, but patient and understanding, at all times.
He helped and advised me through my post-graduate years.
I re-established contact some 5 years ago and have been so inspired by his more recent publications and research... as well as his
universal 'blog' - which often focused so critically on parallels with English political history... Oliver Cromwell, Disraeli, Gladstone, Churchill, Margaret Thatcher.... I often wondered how well this went down with an American following.

I was particularly impressed by his last two entries - poles apart :- July 13 relating to John Profumo - a massive English 'scandal' at the time, with heavy personal 'fall-out' ....and then July 14 the controversy over the all-American 'Trayvon Martin' judgement.
I shall miss his amazing insight and intellect and dry humour... he guided me, one way or another for almost 50 years....
Charles K Rowley ... still greatly missed in the UK.

Diana Tyler

I agree with Diana. I was in the second year of University of Kent at Canterbury and in my final year Charles was on sabbatical in York University, (or was it Newcastle?). Either, it was a long way but he came back to Canterbury to see his family every weekend and remarkably gave up his Saturday mornings to lecture and run tutorials for 4 hours. A marvellous man.

My uncle , was a lovely man , very quiet and patient. Brought up in Southampton with his younger brother , they were moved to the lake district during the war but returned soon after, where they continued to get in trouble with my grandma. As well as a scholar , which he is mainly known for, I'd like to mention his early sporting achievements ; he played for England schools at cricket - an opening bowler , England university at rugby - fullback he was also a champion boxer as an amateur -my dad smiled and said he always had a great right hook . He stopped playing sport in his final year of university to concentrate on his studies.

Comments for this post are closed