Today would have been the eighty-sixth birthday of JoAnn Rothbard, the beloved wife of Murray Rothbard for forty-two years. In the dedication to America’s Great Depression, he called her “the indispensable framework,”and anyone who knew them could have no doubt why he said this. Murray discussed all his ideas with her, and she was a gifted historian in her own right–I recall in particular an excellent talk she gave on Lincoln’s economic policies.
She was totally devoted to Murray, and she regarded it as a principal task to shield him from those who tried to exploit him. She had hilarious stories about some of these people. During the 1979 convention of Libertarian Party at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, someone took the occasion to get Murray to speak at her supper club. She said to me, “Do you know what she paid him? Zip.” Once you were her friend, though, you were her friend for life.
She had an amazing number of stories about people she had known. No one kept up with people as much as she did; and, as she once said to me, “There ‘s a lot I know that I don’t tell anyone.” The memory of her that is clearest in my mind is the kind look in her eyes. This stays with me, “in thinking of the days that are no more.”