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Robert J. Alexander

Robert J. Alexander Obituary
(Home News Tribune)

Robert J. "Bob" Alexander, a pioneer in the study and teaching of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and professor emeritus of economics and political science at Rutgers University, died Tuesday, April 27, 2010, after a brief illness at the Regency Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Somerset. He was 91. Born in Canton, Ohio and raised in Leonia, he had lived in New Brunswick before moving to Piscataway in 1957. Professor Alexander earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Columbia University and was an Army Air Force veteran, serving during World War II. He joined the Rutgers University Economics Department in 1947 and served with distinction until his retirement in 1989. Although a member of the economics faculty, he was the quintessential interdisciplinarian who also taught courses in history, political science and labor studies. Following his official retirement, he not only continued his extensive research and writing but also taught without compensation two courses in the history department each year until 2002. A dedicated and beloved teacher, he was recipient of the 1984 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Parents Association of Rutgers College. As an active member of the Rutgers University community, he was, among other things, a staunch champion of academic freedom and faculty rights and a founder of the faculty union. A renowned and prolific scholar, Professor Alexander was the author or editor of 49 books, including Communism in Latin America (1957), Organized Labor in Latin America (1965) and International Labor Organizations and Organized Labor in Latin America and the Caribbean (2009). In 1963, President Víctor Paz Estenssoro of Bolivia awarded him the Bolivian Order of the Condor of the Andes, the highest honor granted to foreign citizens by the Bolivian government, for his book The Bolivian National Revolution (1958). During his long and distinguished career, Professor Alexander held various positions, including consultant for the American Federation of Labor and AFL-CIO on Latin American and Caribbean organized labor. In 1961, he was named by president-elect Kennedy to the Task Force on Latin America, which recommended the establishment of the Alliance for Progress. A strong and passionate advocate for democracy and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, he was a founding member of the Inter-American Association for Democracy and Freedom. Additionally, he was a lifelong member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding member of the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies (MACLAS), serving as its president 1987-1988.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 54 years, Joan O. (Powell), in May 2003; and a sister, Margaret LeSourd. Surviving are his son, Anthony R. of Piscataway; a daughter, Margaret (Meg) Bradley of Rock Hill, S.C.; three grandchildren, Lyndsey and Colin Alexander and Morgan Bradley; and a niece, Mary LeSourd.
A service of celebration of Professor Alexander's remarkable and fulfilling life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 26 at Christ Episcopal Church, 5 Paterson St., New Brunswick. Those wishing to honor his memory may contribute donations to Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.

Published in Home News Tribune on June 19, 2010
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