Blogs > Liberty and Power > William Marina R.I.P.

Sep 25, 2009

William Marina R.I.P.

Bruce Bartlett just informed me of the sad news that my friend, and stalwart L and P blogger, Professor William Marina, died this morning of a heart attack. It was all very sudden. As you can see, Bill blogged here only a few hours ago. Bill was a fearless friend of the truth and his passing will be a great loss for us all.

I was first introduced to Bill about twenty years ago by his friend Leonard Liggio. We had a wonderful lunch discussion about American history including his dissertation on the American Anti-Imperialist League. Of all the anti-imperialists, he had the kindest words for U.S. Senator William Borah, an insurgent progressive who opposed empire.

As I grew to know Bill a bit better, I could see that his admiration for Borah made perfect sense. Like many of the insurgents, Bill was suspicious of all forms of militarism, imperialism, and bigness in any form, whether private or public. Bill had strong libertarian inclinations but was best described as a decentralist. He was very much an independent thinker and full of surprises.

In our conversations, I consistently found Bill to be a source of infectious enthusiasm. He described himself as a Taoist and that too made sense when you got to know him. He had an upbeat, but somewhat fatalistic, attitude toward passing events. He was a wealth of insights on such varied issues as the history of bureaucracy, Chinese traditions of localism, the need to promote alternative forms of higher education outside of the universities, and sustainable housing.

Because of his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar and economist for the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, he had many illustrative stories about the corrupting influence of foreign aid and the military-industrial complex.

Remarkably, Bill had been on Dealey Plaza on the day of the Kennedy assassination. Although very much a radical in his opposition to centralized power, he rejected all the JFK conspiracy theories as nonsense and planned to write a book about it. Bill believed that Oswald did it, and did it alone and that the Warren Commission was essentially right. He often compared Oswald to Herostratus who had burned down the Temple of Artemis just so he would be immortalized in history.

Bill was not just a talker. Even while he taught classes at Florida Atlantic University, he made a success in real estate by making efficient use of small, odd-shaped parcels that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Although retired from his university position, he was still a bundle of energy and future projects. Most recently, he set up the Marina-Huerta Educational Foundation to build"self-help" affordable, and environmentally-sound housing. The Foundation built a community center in Guatemala and Bill hoped to introduce these techniques to the United States.

It is a great shame that he could not have lived longer to finish some of his projects.

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mary lili jory - 8/16/2009

I like very much the writings and pictures and explanations in your adress so I look forward to see your next writings.
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Justin Bowen - 7/8/2009

I've enjoyed reading his articles and essays ever since I first found this blog. They were always wonderfully informative and easy to read. My condolences to his family and friends.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/7/2009

I know I'm something of a gadfly here at L&P, but Bill was an interesting writer, very substantive usually, and his next-to-last post included a very nice comment including me as part of the community here.

A loss, to be sure, but he certainly left his mark in good ways.

Gus di Zerega - 7/7/2009

I join with many others in wishing this had not happened. I had planned to write Bill an overdue email, one that will never be sent now. A painful lesson not to take those we value for granted.

RIP, Bill Marina. You'll be missed.

Jule Herbert - 7/7/2009

Bill was a speaker at the first IHS seminar I ever attended, which must have been around 1972. Always fearlessly independent. May he rest in Peace.