Richard H. Leftwich

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Richard H. Leftwich

February 01, 1920 - November 10, 2017

Passed away Friday at Jill's House Memory Care, Bloomington, Indiana. He was 97.
Dick was the fifth of nine children born to Rush and Nellie Leftwich on their tenant farm near Burden, Kansas. In 1941 he became the first in his family to earn a college degree, a B.A. in economics from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 and spent World War II in India, earning the rank of Master Sergeant and the Bronze Star and Good Conduct Medals.

On his return in 1945, he married his college sweetheart, Maxine Dieterich. They settled in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where they raised three children. They moved to Bloomington, Indiana, in 1992 to be near their son Brad.

After WWII, the G.I. Bill enabled Dick to attend the University of Chicago, where he received a Ph.D. in economics. In 1948 he landed an assistant professorship at Oklahoma State University, remaining there until he retired in 1985 as Regents' Professor of Economics. He headed the OSU Department of Economics for 10 years and organized and directed the university's Market Economy Education Center.

His career took him around the country and world. In 1962-63, Dick supervised the University of Chicago's economics project at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile. He took temporary appointments as a distinguished visiting professor/lecturer at such far-flung institutions as the American University of Cairo, Egypt, and Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. He loved teaching, and even after "retirement" he took a series of visiting positions at colleges and universities around the country.

Dick was active in professional organizations, serving as president of the Southern, Midwest, and Southwestern Economic Associations, and the Western Social Science Association. After moving to Bloomington, he became treasurer of the local Lions Club.

He was highly regarded as both economist and teacher. Honors include National Beta Gamma Sigma Distinguished Scholar; Mid-America State Universities Honors Lecturer; Oklahoma State University Amoco Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award; the Freedoms Foundation's National Leavey Award for Excellence in Teaching Private Enterprise; and induction into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. He was listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists, 1700-1986. Of the many books and articles he authored, he is best known for his textbook, The Price System and Resource Allocation, which went through 10 editions and was translated into eight languages.

Dick was a fan of the opera, but he also liked singing old-time country songs he learned as a boy in Kansas. He and Maxine enjoyed traveling, visiting some 80 countries on every continent except Antarctica. He was an enthusiastic aviator, holding a commercial pilot's certificate with an instrument rating. In 45 years of flying, he logged more than 5,000 hours in everything from antique biplanes to complex twin-engine aircraft, covering North America from Alaska to Cost Rica and the Bahamas.

Dick was a loyal husband and father, and his family knew they could count on him in any circumstance. He became Maxine's caregiver as she yielded to Alzheimer's disease, and in the process he became an advocate for senior services in Bloomington for more than a decade.

He was preceded in death by his wife Maxine D. Leftwich, his daughter Judith Leftwich, his son Gregory Leftwich, and by six brothers and one sister. Surviving him are his son and daughter-in-law, Bradley Leftwich and Linda Higginbotham, and their son Seth Higginkern; his dear friend, colleague, and companion Shirley Yu; and his brother and sister-in-law Howard and Marilyn Leftwich.

Burial will be at the cemetery in Burden, Kansas. Memorial contributions may be made to the Richard H. and Maxine D. Leftwich Scholarship Fund at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas, and the Judith Leftwich Memorial Scholarship Fund, Oklahoma State University Foundation, Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Online condolences may be made to the family at
Published on November 20, 2017
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