John P. Powelson
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1920 - 2009
John P. "Jack" Powelson, of Boulder, died on January 1, 2009. Powelson was Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Colorado, specializing in Economic Development and Economic History. He served on the faculty of the University of Colorado from 1966 to 1991.

Powelson was born on September 3, 1920, in New York City, to Mary S. and John A. Powelson and raised in Syracuse, NY. He attended Phillips Academy at Andover. He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and was awarded an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his tenure at the University of Colorado, he held professorships at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University and taught at Harvard University, the Wharton School and the University of Buffalo. He served as an economic advisor to the governments of Kenya (on behalf of the Ford Foundation) and Bolivia, as a director of the Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos in Mexico City, and as an economist at the International Monetary Fund. He was the author of sixteen books, including The Moral Economy (University of Michigan Press), Centuries of Economic Endeavor (University of Michigan Press), Seeking Truth Together (Horizon Society Publications), and Facing Social Revolution: The Personal Journey of a Quaker Economist (Horizon Society Publications). He was the founder of the online journal, The Quaker Economist (

Powelson's principal interest as an economist lay in why so many in the world were poor and what to do about it. He was a pacifist, a conscientious objector, a Quaker and a longtime member of the Boulder Meeting of Friends. He loved both the Quaker belief in that of God in every person (the Inner Light) and the Quaker style of worship, and he admired the social consciousness of Friends.

He was much loved by his wife Alice "Robin"; his children Cynthia (dec.), Judith, Kenneth, Carolyn and husband Thomas Campbell, Lawrence and wife Wallis Bolz, grandchildren Carl and Abram, brother Stephen (dec.) and wife Esther, sister Louise and husband Robert Dudley, and nieces and nephews Stephen Dudley, Rebecca Allison, Anne Jeziorski, Stephen, Sally Kirby, and John.

In lieu of flowers and remembrances, the family requests that donations be made to the International Rescue Committee, 122 East 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10168, (212) 551-3000, 877-REFUGEE, or, in the name of John P. Powelson.

A memorial service and reception will be held at the Boulder Meeting of Friends, 1825 Upland Ave, Boulder, Colorado on Saturday, January 17, at 3 p.m.
Published in New York Times from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
January 23, 2010
Judy and family,
I am sorry to hear of your father's passing. I've enjoyed reading his articles in The Quaker Economist, and I am grateful for the hospitality he and your mother extended during my visit to Boulder so many years ago.
Lloyd Rawley
September 13, 2009
I am proud to be a former student of Jack's at the University of Colorado, and a colleague afterward. I remember well when Jack and Robin were our guests in Mexico City, when Jack came down to participate in a series of economics conferences we were holding. His contributions to the books that came out of those conferences were standouts, as were all of Jack's many writings. (I'm trying to locate again my favorite of his articles, one that I have cited many times, on the cost of desconfianza in the economies of Latin America....Great insight!) Add his wonderful sense of humanism to a comprehensive knowledge of the conditions for economic development, and you begin to sum up Jack's professional and personal contributions to his field and to our world learning. Congratulations to his family on receiving such a great legacy!
T. Noel Osborn, PhD
September 11, 2009
Dear Robin and Family,

I was one of the many graduate students that journeyed to Dr. Powelson's home in the foothills for a seminar on economic development. And like many, I could not help but be impressed with his deep-seated passion to improve the lives of others. Although I had other interests at the time and a wife in graduate school, I nearly followed his advice to work in the Phillipines for the IMF following obtaining my M.A. Yes, he was inspiring. And I will continue to think about him often, this wonderful great Man.

Warmest Sympathies,

Mark Bykowsky
May 31, 2009
Dear Robin and Family~

It was with such sorrow that I just read today, May 31st, of Johns passing. To me he was all the was Boulder. I recall, with great fondness and admiration, the times that he would lead folk dances! He just loved it! The twinkle in his eyes would light up the room.
Whenever I was searching for a wise view on some matter of the day, I knew that I'd get it straight, passionate and honestly, from John.
Also, his link to my parents was always comforting, fore they all danced together in NYC! Sometimes JOHN was the teacher, sometimes my DAD!~

With warmest thoughts and prayers, I hold him in the light~

Ken Carpenter
Ken Carpenter
January 23, 2009
I loved engaging Jack. It was SUCH good sport. That is what life is all about! Love to Robin and all. And a moment of silence.
That's pretty good from a person as mouthy as me.
Lynn Segal
January 21, 2009
Jack was a friend and a Friend. Jack always held his beliefs firmly and with honor -- though not always with brevity. His smile was an all-encompassing one that touched upon his eyes, mouth, and body. He could get angry -- very angry -- but one always had the feeling that he could keep the anger directed at the action or idea rather than the person. I will miss him.
Charles Summers
January 14, 2009
Jack was one of my first friends in Boulder -- a wonderful friend who built a house on the hill just above ours. Our kids played together, and Sylvia and I enjoyed warm hospitality from Jack and Robin. I remember many discussions over the years about Quaker concerns. I deeply appreciate his friendship, hospitality, and wisdom.
Bill Davis
January 14, 2009
As a member of the World Learning community, I want to express my gratitude for Jack's commitment to our/his organization and to the values upon which it is based. He was a good man, and always engaging. I can imagine that his legacy continues in his children and all others he has come in contact with over the years.
Karen Blanchard
January 14, 2009
Polly and I have always enjoyed the special family occasions with Jack and her cousin Robin - my earliest memories involve canoe trips. Most recently, we shared a visit to Tom Todd's sudio in Rhode Island. Jack will be missed. He was one of a kind.

George and Polly (Dover, DE)
George and Polly Jose
January 12, 2009
My wife Pat and I were privileged to have known Jack and Robin for the last twenty years. As a teacher of economic development, I had sought for decades for books that effectively combined technical economics and broader social/political/moral aspects of development. I finally found it, first in the book Jack wrote with Loehr and then in his "Centuries of Economic Development." Pat and then became friends of Robin and Jack and came to appreciate the profound and inspiring humanity of their lives. To Judith, Kenneth, Carolyn, and Lawrence, we express our appreciation of your father and our sadness at his passing from our lives.
Bill Shropshire
January 11, 2009
Jack, your presence and enduring energy will never be forgotten. Although I only met you in your later years, I feel very lucky and blessed to have met you and your wife Robin. Thank you for your contributions during your amazing life to our precious planet. I awed at how you would stand up during Quaker meeting and not "assume" a liberal view of all attending sometimes question the status quo.You were not afraid to speak your mind even if the idea was not totally popular. My favorite little memory was having ice-cream with you and Robin at a shop with my kids by chance. You were so open to all people at all times. Blessings to you and blessings to your entire extended family.
Sonja Toutenhoofd
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