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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8873/larry-sechrest-1946-2008/

Larry Sechrest, 1946-2008

October 30, 2008 by

Our dear friend Larry Sechrest, professor of economics at Sul Ross University, and a long-time writer and speaker for economic liberty, died this morning (October 30, 2008). He was born in 1946. The cause was heart failure, and he died with his wife Molly by his side.

She says that it meant so much to him that only recently the Mises Institute was able to bring back his marvelous book Free Banking into print. Of course this book, which is a prophetic attack on the dangers of the central bank, is a gift he has given the ages. In addition, here is his scholarly article archive on MIses.org.

This past year, he delivered the Mises Memorial Lecture, which was widely read and commented on: The Anti-Capitalists: Barbarians at the Gate.

Larry earned his PhD late in life from the University of Texas, Arlington, and immediately went to work teaching. He was person of great charity and optimism, but also courage, as was shown a few years ago when a controversy arose about some of his writing. He had written a hilarious and wonderful essay about the trouble with today’s students, singling out his own students as examples. The essay appeared in Liberty Magazine and is online here.

What followed was an amazing spectacle. The locals were very upset. The mayor of Alpine, Texas, got involved and denounced him, as did many others. There was even a “support Sul Ross” parade right there in town, with floats and posters, all to protest the words of Sechrest. The students, the professors, the merchants, everyone, was against Sechrest – except that in private everyone knew he was right and let him know, again privately. It was a sight that H.L. Mencken would have adored.

Then the New York Times got involved (article here) with a huge feature, with interviews with townspeople and many others. Rarely does Alpine make the national news but this one time, all thanks to Larry, who was just one man of integrity who dared tell the truth.

Throughout the ordeal, he showed what he was really made of. He was light and funny and charming, making jokes and tossing off wry one-liners. He didn’t have a heavy heart about it at all. On the contrary, he seemed completely calm and entirely amused by it all. Not once did he back down or back-pedel. He stuck by every word in the piece, and used the occasion to explain ever more.

Behind this sweet and dear exterior, then, what we saw at work here was something very rare: moral courage. He didn’t buckle even in the face of widespread denunciation and pressure. In the end, of course, he came out on top. The parades died down and people calmed down, and then everyone began to take notice: this man is completely devoted to teaching and completely dedicated to his vocation and to his students. His writing was not motivated by spite, but by love and his profound desire for students to take their jobs as seriously as he takes his.

On a personal note, I will always be grateful to Larry for the friendship he had with my own father, who taught at Sul Ross before he died. Larry spent many hours with my father, talking to him about politics and economics. They were both of a type: independent intellectuals and pioneers, men who would never give up their personal freedom or integrity at any price. They enjoyed their time together, and Larry was heartbroken when he died.

We are all similarly and deeply saddened to hear of his passing now. But we are grateful that his intellectual gifts to the world will last and last.

He is survived by Molly (Mary Ann) Sechrest who has been Larry’s great champion. She
attended the Scholar’s Conference this past year to provide support for his lecture. She asks that gifts in his memory go to the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama.


maera October 30, 2008 at 10:42 am

Sorry to hear Dr. Sechrest died and at a relatively young age. Also, did he ever teach at UTA?

Norman October 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

Rest in peace, Larry. You will always be remembered as a hero in the cause of liberty!

Anthony Gregory October 30, 2008 at 11:12 am

Very sad to hear. I got to meet him and attend the Mises Memorial Lecture, which was just wonderful.

Bill Anderson October 30, 2008 at 11:24 am

Larry really was one of the “good guys” in the discussion of liberty and sound money. His passing comes as a real shock because I did not know he had these kinds of health problems.

I will tell you that I will miss him and his great comments and articles. RIP, Larry!

Inquisitor October 30, 2008 at 11:25 am

What a shame. He is one of my favourite scholars.

Stephan Kinsella October 30, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Larry was a wonderful libertarian with a profound intellect and a wonderful person.

A little anecdote involving Larry. One of my best friends from college, let’s call him “Fernando,” was a roommate with me for a while at LSU in 1984-85. Then he moved on to complete his degree at UT Arlington. Years later, around 1995 or so, I believe, when I was living in Philadelphia and Fernando was in New England, we were talking and as usual I was spouting my Austro-libertarian stuff. Fernando, not really a libertarian, said something like: “I don’t know why you always mention these guys Rothbard and Rand and Mises as if they are not that widely known or not mainstream. They are routinely taught in college.”

I didn’t know what he meant, so I probed. I asked for an example, and he mentioned his business or economics course he had taken at UT Arlington. I was a bit stunned he had learned about Misesian economics there–so I asked him who the professor was. “Sechrest,” he said. My poor friend had the impression this was par for the course–he didn’t know what a unique situation this was, and what luck he had to have such a great economic and libertarian mind teaching him.

Larry got a chuckle out of that story, when I relayed it to him, and remembered Fernando right away and told me to pass on his well-wishes.

I’ll miss Larry, and am glad to have known him.

Tom Woods October 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Very sad — he seemed to be in robust health when we saw him earlier this year. I plan to read his book before the end of the year.

joab h rey October 30, 2008 at 12:58 pm

He was a mentor, someone to look up to, he was the most intelligent and knowledgeable teacher I’ve known, he will be missed.

John Armstrong October 30, 2008 at 1:09 pm

My son, a graduate student taking courses from Dr. Sechrest at Sul Ross, called me this morning with the shocking news of his passing. My secretary, an undergraduate student of Dr. Sechrest, moments later gave me the same sad news. Both confessed to the shedding of tears upon hearing the news.

My son was particularly fond of Dr. Sechrest, and as a father, I can relate to the profound positive impact Dr. Sechrest had upon my son’s thinking, both in terms of politics and economics. I had asked my son if there was any way I could at some point sit down and attempt to exchange ideas with Dr. Sechrest, or more precisely LEARN from him and hone my own perspective from one of the few true intellectuals that exist in this part of the world.

That he passed away before the meeting could be arranged is truely one of my life’s disappointments. I knew him only vicariously, but I sure do miss him.

greg October 30, 2008 at 2:20 pm

I’ve never heard of him. Sorry to hear the news though…

I find it amusing that you left the word state out of Sul Ross State University…

Per-Olof Samuelsson October 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

I’m really sorry to hear this. I didn’t know a thing about Larry Sechrest until a couple of weeks ago, when I read the two essays by him that were recently published on this site, and they were both excellent.

Pat October 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Very unfortunate to hear the news. I read his book on free banking a few months. I might add it was a very interesting book. It definitely made me question the apparent invulnerability of the case for a government-imposed central banking. May he rest in peace.

Michael Morrison October 30, 2008 at 3:38 pm

What a terrible loss!
He made me want to consider Alpine as a home, at least to make a visit.
His knowledge and his love of liberty were, are, and will be inspiring.
What a terrible loss. To everyone.

Matt October 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Reading Larry’s article and the susequent events that followed, I am reminded of the following: “All truth goes through three phases. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self evident. Thank you, dear friend of Liberty.

Gaurav Ahuja October 30, 2008 at 4:27 pm

I agree with Anthony Gregory about his Memorial lecutre. Dr. Sechrest was a very good speaker. If anything good comes out of his death at this time, I hope it will be that his book will be read more.

T.J. Skaff October 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm

As a current student of Sul Ross, I was saddened to hear the news this morning. I was fond of economics before I took one of his classes and it quickly became my passion after the first course. Apparently, the information he conveyed in his courses is not commonly taught in academia anymore. He quickly became my mentor and proved to be committed to assist me in any way he could. From my almost daily office visits to discuss economics, to my trivial questions about graduate school, to any other “daily” concern I seemed to have he was always eager to assist.
In retrospect, he saw potential in me, which even I assumed was not there. From the links to seminars and discussions he believed I might find interesting, to the new edition of his book he gifted me or the intellectual foundation he offered to help cultivate my interest in economics, his sound economic thinking was very inspiring. He has left a lasting impression and it is truly a bad day for liberty with the news of this tragic loss. May he rest in peace.

John Enright October 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm

I am terribly sorry to hear of this.

Bruce Koerber October 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I highly recommend listening to the Larry Sechrist YouTube attached to this memorial for Larry.

Shortly after the Austrian Scholars Conference I viewed it and felt compelled to correspond with him.

His legacy is preserved by the Mises Institute and in all of his work and friendships. We know how the foundation of classical liberalism is solid and will support true civilization in the future.

Merlin Jetton October 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Sad news. I had some great times with Larry at a couple conferences. My sympathy to Molly.

Cort Stapleton October 31, 2008 at 1:21 am

Very saddened to learn of Larry’s passing. A fine man and scholar and brilliant light for the virtues of freedom. Voices of these are important both in academic work and public work as the cause of freedom goes forward. Our time is coming when the country awakens to the need to go outside the box and take the writings of Larry, Von Mises, Hayek, and so many others to heart and act on them in bringing freedom , true freedom to America.

Jimmy T. LaBaume October 31, 2008 at 8:18 am

I not only find it “humorous” that Jeff left out the word “State” in Sul Ross State University, I find it appropriate. Larry would have seen the humor in that.

For a “conservative libertarian,” being inside academia can be a lonely place. But it was not for Larry. Indeed, I never knew him as having a “heavy heart” about any of it. He was my confidant, my advisor, my ally and most of all, my friend. Sul Ross University will be a much lonelier place without him.

Indeed, liberty is short one “good guy.”

And Molly, if you are reading this, please know that our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with you.

Ace Davis October 31, 2008 at 8:27 am

I had Dr. Sechrest for a couple of classes here at Sul Ross. He was good. I really enjoyed his lectures and the sharing of his abundant knowledge

Sheldon Richman October 31, 2008 at 9:05 am

Very sorry to hear this. We’ve lost another fighter for liberty.

Marsha Enright October 31, 2008 at 9:54 am

I am so sorry to hear about Larry – my heart goes out to Molly.

Peter Lewin October 31, 2008 at 10:00 am

Larry Sechrest was a friend and colleague. Strange to tell he was also my student when I taught briefly at the University of Texas at Arlington.

He was a great guy, always polite, funny and attentive – he was a gentleman. I corresponded with him just three weeks ago when he sent me a copy of the second edition of his book. This is a complete shock. He will be missed.

Peter Lewin
Clinical Professor, Economics
University of Texas at Dallas
School of Management
P.O. Box 830688, SM 31
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
972.883.2799 fax

Monica Quiroga October 31, 2008 at 10:47 am

I was Student Government President at the time of Larry’s “situation” at Sul Ross. Supportive of his First Amendment rights, we issued a public statement as such.

Whether you loved him or loathed him, Dr. Sechrest was one of my most difficult instructors at Sul Ross. I worked hard for every grade I got from him, and never ever did he let me slide on a project. For this, I will always be grateful.

I last saw Larry a few weeks ago, during a visit to Alpine. I always enjoyed our conversations, and the challenges presented to me at the end of each. Dr. Secrest will be missed for both his charm and intellect. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. The academic community at Sul Ross will have a difficult time replacing a man of Larry’s ability.

Duncan Scott October 31, 2008 at 10:59 am

So sorry to hear this news. My thoughts and condolances to Molly and to all of Larry’s family and friends.

Martin Kingsley Smith, Jr. October 31, 2008 at 11:00 am

I studied under Dr. Sechrest through the early and mid-90′s, all the way through both the BBA and MBA programs at Sul Ross. I did a lot of coursework with him in other words. I surely enjoyed that old man; definitely one of the very best teachers I ever had on anything. Dr. Sechrest is one of my heroes and I shall miss him.

Duncan Scott October 31, 2008 at 11:00 am

So sorry to hear this news. My thoughts and condolances to Molly and to all of Larry’s family and friends.

Karen Minto October 31, 2008 at 4:19 pm

I am so sad to hear about Larry. Molly, you and Larry were so lucky to find each other. It must be some condolence to you that you brought him so much happiness at last. We have truly lost an insightful and lively intellect.

~ Nona A. October 31, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I was so sorry to hear this news. My condolences to you, Molly, and the entire Sechrest family.

Billy Solestis November 1, 2008 at 9:21 am

Sorry to hear of Larry’s passing. I’m enjoying reading his essays and look forward to reading his book as well.

Also, that’s “back-PEDAL”, like PEDAL-ing a bike, as in “Not once did he back down or back-PEDAL”. You’re welcome. Say, your degree isn’t from Sul Ross, is it?

George Selgin November 3, 2008 at 1:38 pm

As soon as I got over the shock of learning that Larry had died, I turned to his article on Alpine, which I hadn’t read. It had me laughing out loud–better than an Irish wake!

Good show, Larry.

Frank Cargo November 4, 2008 at 7:22 am

Dr. Larry, as I called him, was always kind, understanding and helpful. I will miss Dr. Larry and his great wit.
We enjoyed many hours soaking up his wisdom and hospitality!
We love you Molly.

Dr. Ferris Roger Byxbe November 4, 2008 at 9:26 am

It’s rare these days to find a academician having the level of moral courage and intellectual pioneering spirit to match that of Dr. Sechrest. His essay about the trouble with today’s students was right on point and should be a lesson learned by administrators and politicians alike. Many American universities are becoming nothing more that “diploma mills” resulting in the dumbing down of America. Larry’s frustration is shared by many in higher education today! Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Swechrest.

Molly Sechrest November 6, 2008 at 10:13 am

It is heartening to read the many lovely tributes made to my husband. Were Larry here today, he would be much moved. Also, thank you for the outpouring of sympathy and concern. Support from friends means more to me than I can express right now.

I wish to let people know that Sul Ross State University will host a memorial service for Larry on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 2:30 pm, at the Studio Theatre, Francois Fine Arts Building, on campus. Those who would like to speak on the occasion should contact me at JavaMolly@aol.com, or Larry’s son, Kyle Sechrest at contrabandit5@hotmail.com.

Very truly yours,
Molly Sechrest

Renee Parson November 6, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Dr. Sechrest was the best teacher I ever had. Every time I get in front of my own students, I think of him and wish I could give them the insights he gave me. Dr. Secrest was one of a kind. I’ll never forget him. So sorry.

Renee Franklin Parson

Lester Hunt November 6, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Had he only written the Liberty piece on Alpine, he would have a place in my heart. Rest in peace.

Molly Sechrest November 8, 2008 at 10:15 am

Sul Ross State University has reinstated Larry’s academic home page at http://faculty.sulross.edu/larrys/. It will be here for one week.

Sigmund Krieger January 9, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Stumbled on the obit and the UTUBE. Dr. Sechrist at his usual clear reasoning self. Had three courses with him at UTA. He helped me enormously. He was the best teacher of economics that I have ever personally known.

Richard Storey April 11, 2009 at 10:49 am

Blessings to Larry and his family who remain behind!

Professor Larry Sechrest, as I knew him at UT Arlington, was a grand fellow. I took his Money & Banking course during his last semester at UTA. I had not seen him since 1989, until I saw the video of his lecture on Mises.org. It took me a few minutes, but his manner of speech piqued those fond memories I had in his classroom. A friend had introduced me to Libertarianism that semester, and he told me about this cool professor in the economics department. He even took me over to visit Prof. Sechrest a few times and we talked about liberty and economics. Larry had a Gadsden flag on the wall in his office, with its coiled rattler and the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Larry always displayed warmth and a keen intellect to two students just popping in for a chat on Libertarianism. His independence of mind left a strong impression that I never forgot.

Kudos, Professor Larry Sechrest, for your life’s work, your generosity, and your positive influences!

Bailey Sechrest August 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Sorry to hear that Dr. Sechrest past away. People say he was a very good teacher.

Mike August 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I was a student of Prof. Sechrest’s at the University of Texas at Arlington in the 1980′s. I just learned of this news today while looking through Google for some of the names of college professor’s. Larry Sechrest was my favorite college professor. I took all of the classes he taught that I could take. I found his classes to be enlightening, engaging and a great deal of fun. He and I would have long talks outside of class on a wide range of subjects. In his office (as noted by someone else) was a Gadsden flag as well as naval architecture sail plans for old sailing vessels. The talks we would have would more often than not center around politics, economics or maritime interests. I never forgot him and am saddened to learn of this. My prayers are for him and his family. Those of us that were lucky enough to have had him for a professor while young undergrads were certainly lucky indeed! Thanks Prof. Sechrest for so much you have given to me and to all of us who had you as a teacher!

Kevin Dowd December 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I have only just discovered that Larry passed away, just over two years ago. I am very shocked to learn this – I had no idea! My sympathies go to Larry’s family.
I can only agree with the wonderful comments others have made about Larry: his integrity, courage, independence of mind and his scholarship were truly exemplary; he was a role model in so many different ways. He honored me by asking me to write the foreword to his splendid book, “Free Banking: Theory, History, and a Laissez-Faire Model” and I am delighted to see the Mises Institute re-launch it. Larry’s book is a classic.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Larry but we periodically wrote each other and last corresponded about three years ago when I wrote to congratulate him about the hornet’s nest he had stirred up in Alpine several years before: we had a good laugh over that!
His steadfastness in his Libertarian beliefs and his willingness to speak out are inspirations to us all.
May he rest in peace.

Nick Constantinou June 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

Mr. Sechrest was one of my professors at the University of Texas-Arlington. He was teaching a course about banking and monetary economics and I had the great privilege of attending his class in the Fall of 1986. At the time, Mr. Sechrest was studying for his doctorate. He was indeed one of the most knowledgeable professors I had. He was always very patient with all his students and and presented his material in layman’s terms so that everyone could understand it. After I graduated, I lost touch with Mr. Sechrest and I just recently learnt of his passing. I was very sorry to hear about it. Even though I can’t claim to espouse the theories of the Austrian School or Classical Economics, I did learn quite alot from Mr. Sechrest and this knowledge has served me well over the years. May his memory be eternal.

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