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Franklin W. Houn (1920 - 2014)

Obituary
  • "To Franklin's family, I worked for Prof. Houn in the..."
    - Trish Foley Bachand
  • "Professor Houn was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever..."
    - Warren Gold
  • "To the Houn family, With my deepest sympathy on your recent..."
  • "Dear HOUN Family, We truly miss the SCHOLAR, GENTLEMAN,..."
  • "Dear Fred, Florence and Flora: Judi and I want to express..."
    - Kip and Judi Fonsh

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Franklin W. Houn, 93, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mass., died Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Silver Spring.

Professor Houn taught at UMass Amherst from 1963 to his retirement in 1990. He published four books and several dozen articles in academic journals and other well-known publications. His "A Short History of Chinese Communism" (1967), was a groundbreaking analysis and review of the socio and political origins of the Communist Party to its post-1949 political structure under Mao Zedong's leadership and the reform policies. The book highlighted the positive contributions of the Communist Party to the building of China, predicting the rise of China to be a world power. This book, which West Point declared required reading for its cadets was reviewed by Clarence Peterson, Senior Editor at the Washington Post's Book World, Jan. 21, 1968, who stated, "Everyone should read at least one book a year that shakes the foundations of his beliefs. For many of us, "A Short History of Chinese Communism", by Franklin W. Houn is such a book."

Houn was born in 1920, in Hequ, China (Shanxi Province). He received his bachelor's degree in 1946 from National Zhengzhi University in Nanjing, China, while the Japanese invaded China. He came to the U.S. on a Department of State Grant in 1949 and completed his master's at the University of Denver and his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin.

Houn served as an associate professor at Michigan State University from 1957 to 1959, and University of Nebraska from 1960 to 1963, before joining the faculty at UMass.

After retirement, Houn lived for 10 years in southern California. Since 2000, he lived in Silver Spring, where we attended lectures in the Washington, D.C., area on U.S. China relations. In addition, he enjoyed daily exercise with the Early Birds of Leisure World in Silver Spring.

Houn and his ex-wife Frances Lu Houn, raised three children in Amherst, Mass. After graduating from Amherst Regional High School, all attended Harvard University.

Houn is survived by his son Fred Wei-han Ho of Brooklyn, N.Y., his daughters Florence Houn of Potomac, Md., and Flora Houn Hoffman of Saratoga, Calif., and three grandchildren, Ethan Ling-hou Goldberger, Emma Lu Hoffman and Julia Hou Hoffman.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 8, 2014
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