We hear from Roy Cordato that our old friend Bill Peterson passed away today at age 91. Bill was a student of Ludwig von Mises, having attended his NYU seminars and written his dissertation under Mises at NYU. He was a recipient of the Mises Institute’s Schlarbaum Prize for lifetime achievement several years ago. I first met Bill in the early 80s. He was one of the most eloquent writers I have ever come across, someone who could write as well on economic matters as Henry Hazlitt. This talent apparently got Bill a job as a speech writer for Richard Nixon. Bill never wrote a great treatise (but hey, who has?) or even many scholarly articles, but he was a free-market crusader all his life, along with his wife Mary who worked for one of the Big Three U.S. automakers during her career as a publicist. Part of her job was defending free enterprise. I doubt that such jobs exist any more.
Bill was a health and exercise aficianado his entire life, and his diet and exercise routine always kept him slim. I don’t think I ever saw him when he was not dressed in an expensive looking men’s suit. In this regard he copied Mises in the old European tradition. Bill’s main talent as an economist was in popularizing the ideas of Mises and other Austrians. Whenever I ran across an op-ed of his in the Washington Times or some such place they always stood out very starkly as by far the best-written articles in the entire newspaper, and of course I usually agreed with everything in them.