AUSTIN, Texas—Funeral arrangements have been announced for Walt W. Rostow, a professor emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin who during the 1960s was special assistant for National Security Affairs in the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Rostow, who died Thursday, Feb. 13, of complications from kidney failure, was 86.
Services will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar Blvd. Visitation at the funeral home will be from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Rostow will be buried in New York on Friday, Feb. 21.
He is survived by his wife, Elspeth; his son, Peter; his daughter, Ann Rostow; and his granddaughter, Diana Rostow.
Rostow was the Rex G. Baker, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Political Economy in the Department of Economics. His wife, Elspeth Rostow, is the Stiles Professor Emeritus In American Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
“Walt was a great and gracious scholar and the faithful servant of his nation,” Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said. “He will be acutely missed. Our sympathies go now especially to Elspeth.”
In January 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed Rostow as deputy special assistant to the president for national security affairs. He served in that capacity until December 1961 when he was appointed counselor of the U.S. Department of State and chairman of the Policy Planning Council of the Department of State. In May 1964, the President appointed him to the additional duty of United States member of the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress with the rank of ambassador. He served in these latter two capacities until early 1966, when President Johnson called him back to the White House as his special assistant for national security affairs, where he remained until January 1969. In February 1969 Rostow returned to teaching at The University of Texas at Austin, as professor of economics and history.
Rostow and his wife Elspeth, along with other community members, founded The Austin Project in 1992. He served as chairman of the board and task force director in 1992-98 and was a past president and board member.
Rostow was the author of more than 30 books, the latest of which are: “Concept and Controversy: Sixty Years of Taking Ideas to Market” (University of Texas Press, 2003), “Theorists of Economic Growth from David Hume to the Present, With a Perspective on the Next Century” (1990), the third edition of “The Stages of Economic Growth” (1990) and “The Great Population Spike and After: Reflections on the 21st Century” (1998).
Until his death, he remained active, teaching undergraduates in the fall semesters and a graduate seminar in the spring. He had spoken at conferences recently about the population problem and continued to publish articles and editorials.
Rostow was born Oct. 7, 1916 in New York City. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1936; Ph.D. from Yale in 1940 and attended Balliol College, Oxford, England, 1936-1938, as a Rhodes Scholar.
His career as an educator began in 1940 when he became an instructor of economics at Columbia University. During the Second World War (1942-45) he served as a Major in the OSS. After the war he joined the State Department as assistant chief of the German-Austrian Economic Division. He later returned to teaching, as the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford, 1946-47.
In 1947 he became the assistant to the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe. He returned to England in 1949 to spend a year at Cambridge University as the Pitt Professor of American History.
From 1950-1961 Rostow was professor of economic history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and from 1951-1961 he was also a staff member of the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Rostow received the Order of the British Empire (honorary, military division, 1945), the Legion of Merit (1945), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (with distinction, 1969). He was a member of the Board of Foreign Scholarships, January 1969 to December 1971.
He also was a member of the Elizabethan Club, New Haven; Massachusetts Historical Society; Cosmos Club; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; American Philosophical Society; The Austin Council on Foreign Affairs, and The Philosophical Society of Texas.
Flags on the university’s campus will be flown at half-staff on Wednesday, Feb. 19, in memory of Dr. Walt Whitman Rostow.