Noted economist and conservative columnist Walter E. Williams died this week at the age of 84, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Fans and friends alike expressed their grief upon hearing the news about the George Mason University (GMU) professor.
“An economist’s economist”
A prolific author and syndicated columnist, Williams had long been known for his studied promotion of principles including free markets, limited government, and individual rights and responsibilities, the Times-Dispatch reported.
His first book, The State Against Blacks, was published nearly 4o years ago and offered his belief that various governmental efforts to aid members of minority communities, despite their intentions, were inherently detrimental and should be opposed by those supposedly benefiting from them.
Fellow GMU economics professor Don Boudreaux was among the first to share what he deemed “devastating news,” writing in a blog post that Williams had been a “colleague and friend for more than 35 years” and one of his “few heroes.”
Signaling in that post that he would offer a deeper reflection later, Boudreaux penned a moving op-ed published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.
Williams was also remembered in a touching Forbes piece by another personal friend, Samford University economics professor Art Carden, who described his late colleagues as an “intellectual giant” as well as “an economist’s economist, a scholar’s scholar, and an unparalleled communicator of economic wisdom and ideas.”
“One of my heroes”
“Wow, what a punch in the gut,” Levin wrote. “I am told that one of my heroes, Dr. Walter Williams, passed away. Walter had an enormous influence on me, from the time I was 13-years old; he was my first guest on Life, Liberty & Levin.”
Born in Philadelphia, Williams worked as a cab driver after high school and was drafted into the U.S. Army, later attending California State University at Los Angeles.
He went on to earn a doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he became lifelong friends with like-minded conservative-libertarian economist Thomas Sowell. From there, he taught at Temple University in Philadelphia before joining GMU as a professor in 1981.
Sowell described his late friend as a one-of-a-kind human being, writing: “We may not see his like again. And that is our loss.”