Famed Berbice-born economist Rawle Farley passes away

Prominent economist and educator, Dr. Rawle Farley, who put four sons through Harvard, died on Saturday in Rochester, New York.

He was 88. Guyanese-born, Dr. Farley had been a professor of economics at the State University of New York, College at Brockport since 1966. He was the founder and first chairperson of the Department of Economics at SUNY Brockport, and was named Professor Emeritus in 1995. He passed away at Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. following a period of hospitalization.

Writing on the website of the Wall Street Journal, where he is a senior editor, Dr. Farley’s son, Christopher said that his dad was the author of a number of seminal works that helped shape the study of the economics of the developing world, including “The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective” (Harper & Row, 1972). Foreign Affairs called this book “intense and comprehensive,” and Dr. Farley’s work has been featured in Time magazine, among other publications. In the 2007 cultural history “Breaking Down the Walls” by Howard Fergus, Lennox Bernard and Judith Soares, the authors described Dr. Farley as “a visionary leader with the courage to challenge the existing system and its standards.”

Born Rawle Egbert Griffith Farley in Courtland Village, Berbice, the young Farley taught elementary school and held posts with the Guyanese government before leaving the country to pursue his education in England. To pay for his schooling and fund his trip abroad, he sold the trophies he had won as a champion hurdler. He eventually earned a Ph.D. from the University of London, and attended Oxford University. While a student in England, during one period he couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent a room to a Caribbean scholar and ended up sleeping in a hallway between the rooms of two white friends, Christopher wrote.

Dr. Rawle Farley

Dr. Farley taught for over a decade at the University College of the West Indies (now known as the University of the West Indies) founding and participating in academic programmes across the Caribbean.

In Belize, he helped institute the first Belizean UCWI campus, founded the Festival of One-Act Plays and the British Honduras National Festival of the Arts. Among his many academic and government posts, he served as a United Nations economic development and planning expert in Libya. Dr. Farley was a highly-ranked chess player, who was well known for playing and winning tournaments around the country.

With his wife Dr. Ena Farley, a noted scholar of African-American history who is also a Professor Emeritus at SUNY Brockport, Dr. Farley had four sons: Jonathan graduated from Harvard summa cum laude and earned a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University; Anthony (a University of Virginia graduate) and Felipe (a Harvard graduate) both earned J.D.’s from Harvard Law School and are attorneys-at-law; and Christopher, who also attended Harvard College, is a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and the author of a number of non-fiction books and novels. Jeremy, Dr. Farley’s son by a previous marriage, is deceased.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 11:00 am at the Brockport Free Methodist Church, Fourth Section Road. Interment will be at the Lake View Cemetery.

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