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Dr. Rawle Farley, Acclaimed Caribbean Economist And Educator Who Put Four Sons Through Harvard, Dies At 88

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Dr. Rawle Farley, an award-winning economist and educator, died on Nov. 6. He was 88 years old, and passed away at Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

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.

Dr. Farley is the author of a number of seminal works that helped shape the study of the economics of the developing world, including “Planning for Development in Libya: The Exceptional Economy in the Developing World” (Praeger, 1971) and “The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective” (Harper & Row, 1972). Foreign Affairs called the latter 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.”

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.

Born Rawle Egbert Griffith Farley in South America in Courtland Village, Berbice, Guyana, the young Farley taught elementary school and held posts with the Guyanese government before leaving the country to pursue his education. To pay for his schooling and fund his trip abroad, he sold the trophies he had won as a champion hurdler.

Dr. Farley earned a Teacher’s Diploma, B.A., B.Sc.Econ.(Hons.),and a Ph.D. from the University of London, and went on to attend the London School of Economics and to become a member of St. Catherine’s Society (now St. Catherine’s College) at Oxford University. Among his many grants and prizes, he was awarded an ILO Fellowship to Oxford and a Ford Foundation Grant.

While a student in England, during one period he couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent a room to a Caribbean scholar. He ended up sleeping in a hallway between the rooms of two white friends. Farley later became the president of the West Indian Students’ Union.

Dr. Farley taught for over a decade at the University College of the West Indies (now known as the University of the West Indies), visiting, lecturing, publishing and participating in academic initiatives 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. “It is important to note that this Festival of the Arts was the biggest and most important cultural event in Belize,” wrote the authors of “Breaking Down the Walls.” “It eventually gained recognition as one of the most prestigious and longest-running arts festivals (1953-1979) in all of the Caribbean.”

Among his many academic and government posts, he served as a visiting professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a United Nations economic development and planning expert in Libya. He was also a former president of both the New York State Economics Association and the State University of New York Faculty Association for African Studies. Dr. Farley was a highly-ranked chess player, who was well known for playing and winning tournaments around the country.

Dr. Farley is survived by his wife Ena; their sons Anthony, Felipe, Christopher, and Jonathan, and six grandchildren, Obadiah, Elisha, Sarah, Dylan, Astrid and Emma.

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