Dr. Walter Firey, professor of sociology at the University of Texas (from Assistant Professor in 1946 to Emeritus Professor in 1985), died peacefully in his home surrounded by loving family members on December 21, 2014 in Austin, Texas.
He was born in Roundup, Montana, August 13, 1916, the eldest son of Dr. Walter I Firey, Sr. and Marie Oveson Firey. Moving with his family to Seattle he graduated from the University of Washington, thence going to Harvard University where he received his Ph. D. degree. Following a year and a half at Michigan State University he joined the faculty of the University of Texas, with visiting appointments at Harvard, Columbia and Michigan State Universities.
Dr. Firey's scholarly interests lay primarily in the fields of land use, natural resources, and social-economic planning, in which he authored numerous books and articles, some of which found expression in his classroom teaching. Among his concerns in these fields was that of identifying the formal conditions under which tradition, ideals, laws, and authority can condition the economic use of land and resources. This concern figured in his books: "Land Use in Central Boston", "Man, Mind and Land," "Law and Economy in Planning." Another of his interests led to the book, "The Study of Possible Societies." His teaching included courses on social institutions, rural sociology, human ecology and sociological theory.
Among his honors was a one-year Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, at Stanford, California, an Award of Merit from the Natural Resources Research Group of the Rural Sociological Society, and a Pro Bene Meritis Award from the Liberal Arts Foundation of the University of Texas.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Mary Lou (nee Powell) Firey of Austin; his sons Paul L Firey of Allen, Texas and John E Firey of Magnolia, Texas. He was a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Austin, Texas.
Dr. Firey's professional memberships included the American Sociological Association, the Rural Sociological Society, the International Association for Society and Natural Resources and the Sociological Research Associations.
A graveside service was held at Cook Walden Capital Parks Cemetery, on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 11:00 am.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Dec. 28 to Dec. 29, 2014.