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  • Remembering Rev. Dr. Leroy Stephens Rouner

Rev. Dr. Leroy Stephens Rouner (August 5, 1930-February 11, 2006)

Dr. Leroy Stephens Rouner, an educator, philosopher, and theologian, died in Hanover, New Hampshire on February 11, 2006 from blood cancer. He was 75 years old.

The third child of the Rev. Arthur A. Rouner and Elizabeth Stephens Rouner, Leroy Rouner was born on August 5, 1930 in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He grew up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where his father was the minister of the North Church. He attended the Choate School, graduated with honors, and was chosen by the English Speaking Union to attend England's Uppingham School as an exchange student. On returning to America, Dr. Rouner followed his father and his brother to Harvard College, where he rowed on the varsity heavyweight crew and sang in the Harvard Glee Club. After completing his undergraduate studies, he received a graduate degree in theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and went on to earn a doctorate degree in philosophy at Columbia University. Dr. Rouner received many honors over the course of his career, including honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard College and Lynchburg College.

Though ordained as a minister, Dr. Rouner chose to teach rather than preach in a parish ministry. He was a gifted and inspiring teacher. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Dr. Rouner taught and lived abroad and traveled widely. From 1960- 1965, he taught philosophy at the United Theological College of the Church of South India in Bangalore. This seminary drew students from all over Asia and the Middle East, including the present Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, who was one of his students. At the end of their five years in India, Dr. Rouner and his wife and four young children traveled overland from India to Germany in a specially equipped Land Rover (named Ulysses.) The trip took several months and passed through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and other remote areas of the Middle East where few Westerners travel today.

Upon returning to America, Dr. Rouner taught philosophy and religion at Boston University for over 30 years. He served as Director of the University's Institute for Philosophy and Religion for 25 years, and built that organization into what it is today. The Institute sponsors a yearly series of symposiums by philosophers from across the globe to address such profound issues as life, death, civility, loneliness, and the longing for home. Dr. Rouner had a gift for bringing together people with diverse ideas, and edited and published 20 volumes of the Institute's lectures.

Dr. Rouner retired from Boston University in 2003, and moved with his wife to their country home in Sandwich, New Hampshire, where he continued to write, hike, and swim. At the time of his death, he served as President of the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds in Sri Lanka, as a member of the New Hampshire Council for the Humanities, and as a Trustee of the Cabot Trust. [End Page 367]

Dr. Rouner is survived by his wife of 50 years, Rita Rainsford Rouner, and by three children: Stephen (Rainsford), Jonathan, and Christina. His son Timothy died in a mountaineering accident in 1977. In lieu of flowers, contributions to a special lecture series in honor of Leroy Stephens Rouner can be made to Boston University Institute for Philosophy and Religion, 745 Commonwealth Ave., Room 523, Boston, Massachusetts 02215. [End Page 368]



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