Don Edward Roper
1940 - 2020
BORN
1940
DIED
2020
Professor Don E. Roper died from Alzheimer's on July 22, 2020; he was born to Homer and Vaude Roper on June 6, 1940, in Lubbock, Texas, where he grew up and started his education. After graduating from Monterrey High School, in 1958, he won a $4,000 scholarship he used to attend Texas Technical University, where he studied industrial engineering. During his senior year, Don's paper "Machine Algorithm for Critical Path Scheduling," won the first prize in the nationwide student paper competition sponsored by the national American Institute of Industrial Engineers. He pursued graduate studies in economics, political science and philosophy at Northwestern University prior to earning the Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago, where he specialized in monetary theory and international economics. Don's first job was as research economist at the Federal Reserve, in Washington DC. Later on, he chose to become an academic, teaching at Tulane University, the University of Stockholm, Australian National University, and the University of Utah before joining the Economics Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the mid-1980s. He retired in the early 2000s. Within the discipline, Don is best known for the work on currency substitution and exchange market pressure that he and his friend and coauthor, Lance Girton, published in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A historical and political perspective on economic phenomena influenced Don's politics and his teaching of international economics. It also led to his involvement with the Conflict and Peace Studies program, and with faculty and students who shared his passionate concerns about environmental and social justice, the possibility of nuclear disasters, the perennial conflicts in the Middle East, conflict resolution and peace. During the 1980s, small personal computers and access to the internet became increasingly available; Don had a deeply held belief in their potential for fostering social change. He regretted that he had majored in industrial, rather than electrical engineering and computers, so he largely taught himself and sought help to learn computer programming and html; he enjoyed teaching students and friends how to build webpages. In pursuit of his dream, that the internet could be used to enhance communications with the objective of working through disparate views and ideologies to secure a more promising future, Don used personal funds and university support to create CSF, Communications for a Sustainable Future. CSF hosted academic websites (e.g., peace studies and service learning) and became home to around 30 discussion lists such as progressive sociology, feminist studies, world systems, international political economy, and many others. Today, the existence of academic and political electronic networks is taken for granted; in the 1990s, however, this was revolutionary because it fostered intense exchanges of ideas, in and off network, among people who would otherwise have never met. CSF closed after thriving for over a decade; its legacy, Don's legacy, resulted in the emergence and persistence of communities of scholars and activists, inside and outside professional organizations, which have roots in the networks to which CSF provided a free terrain to flourish. Don loved the outdoors and built a little cabin in the mountains. He loved Nature and inspired others to love it too; he planted trees and cared for them, he could stop driving just to admire cloud formations or flocks of birds. He enjoyed tinkering and fixing things at home and for friends. Don used small bills to make tight rolls secured with a rubber band and usually carried several in the car to give to the homeless whenever possible. He was a brilliant, unconventional, modest and generous man who will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. His survivors include his wife, Martha E. Gimenez, his brother and sister-in-law Robert and Sharon Roper of Healdsburg, CA, numerous cousins who live in Texas and Oklahoma and many friends and former students dispersed around the world. Because of the pandemic we cannot meet now to celebrate Don's life. Those wishing to honor his memory might consider making a contribution to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless (bouldershelter.org) or to the Alzheimer's Association (act.alz.org).
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Published by The Daily Camera on Aug. 23, 2020.
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2 Entries
After losing touch with Don after graduation from Texas Tech in 1963, I was able to reconnect in 2010 (est.). There was no sign of dementia at that time and we had many wonderful chats about Tech, engineering, economics, pledging our fraternity and our current interests. I was never able to see Don again, but those teleconferences were wonderful. Although our parents were credited with being the Greatest Generation, Don Roper was certainly in that league.
Walter Lee
Friend
January 16, 2021
Francine Mandel-Sheets
November 1, 2020
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