- A Memorial Tribute to Leroy Rouner
Leroy Rouner was an extraordinary academic leader, productive and creative scholar, brilliant teacher—and most importantly, I believe, an exemplary person. As a leader, in addition to serving in many administrative positions, Lee directed with great skill and flair the Institute for Philosophy and Religion at Boston University from its inception to the time of his retirement a couple of years ago. As a scholar doing original work on the philosophy of civil religion he also edited over 20 volumes published by the University of Notre Dame Press on specific topics and themes from lectures presented at his Institute by thinkers of international repute from many different backgrounds and cultures. As a teacher he inspired his students wherever he taught to think clearly about basic issues in philosophy and religion as a form of praxis to what it means to live a flourishing life. I recall vividly when he visited a seminar of mine and urged the graduate students to be passionate about their work; indeed, he said, "I always want to see blood on the pages of my student's papers."
As a person, Lee exhibited throughout the many years I knew him a spontaneous generosity of spirit and means that reflected his deep religiosity. Lee was compassionate by nature and a true believer in the redemptive power of faith, but he could at the same time both acknowledge and celebrate a genuine plurality of spiritual possibilities. Lee had a rare capacity for friendship and a great sense of humor that allowed him to never take himself too seriously or anyone else for that matter who, not uncommonly in our profession, tend to center the world on themselves. Lee was above all devoted to his family and whenever a lapse of time of our meeting face to face occurred he would phone or send a letter to bring me up to date on the activities of his wife and children, of whom he was justifiably proud.
I first met Lee in 1969 when he attended one of our East-West Philosophers' Conferences here in Honolulu. We felt an immediate affinity that deepened over the years. He subsequently visited with us here as an invited lecturer, as a Visiting Professor and as a participant in all the East-West Philosophers' Conferences and the Research Conferences of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy held here since 1969. I also had many opportunities to visit him and his Institute in Boston, especially during the time I spent in 1985 as a visiting professor at Harvard. We also joyously attended at the same time many academic meetings in cities throughout the country and in a numerous places abroad.
My indebtedness to Lee is very large indeed—the most striking example of which was when, during the middle of a Fall semester many years ago, Lee flew from Boston to Honolulu to preside over the marriage of my wife Marcia and me. With that most generous gift, we were assured of an enduring and wonderful togetherness.
Lee was a very dear friend and will be sorely missed by us and by the many friends he made here during his frequent visits. We do take consolation, though, in knowing that wherever the angels dwell so does the spirit of Leroy Rouner. [End Page 369]