In Memoriam — Rose Director Friedman

Published August 20, 2009

Rose Director FriedmanRose Director Friedman, the wife of, and coauthor of many books with, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, passed away on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, of heart failure. She was 98 years old.

Joseph Bast, President, The Heartland Institute

Rose Friedman and I met several times over the years and she seemed to follow the efforts of The Heartland Institute, always expressing familiarity with our work and thanking me for our contributions to the school choice movement. I was only one of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of libertarian activists who she made feel special by her attention and encouragement. Knowing this doesn’t diminish by one iota the warmth and appreciation I feel when thinking of her.

My friend Bob Chitester had been pestering me in recent months to visit Rose at her home in Davis, California. I was always “too busy.” Just a day or two before her death, Bob sent Rose by email my essay titled A Toast — and Debt of Gratitude — to Milton Friedman, based on my remarks at the Milton Friedman Day event held in Chicago on July 31. Perhaps she saw it.

Rose mirrored, in many ways, the character traits of her famous husband Milton: smart, charming, witty, completely unpretentious, and patient. She was a beautiful woman who (also like Milton) seemed to almost stop aging sometime around 1980. A comparison of pictures from the covers of Free to Choose and Two Lucky People shows little evidence of the 20 years’ difference in publication dates.

The passing of Rose Director Friedman is another turning of the page on what was a golden era of discovery and application of free-market ideas. When she and Milton first began writing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was no libertarian movement, and few principled conservatives. Together, they made classical liberalism — libertarianism — an exciting intellectual project as well as a social and political movement that could actually improve lives.

God bless you, Rose, and please say hi to Milton for me.

Karla Dial, Managing Editor, School Reform News

I had the honor of meeting both Rose and Milton Friedman at a workshop four years ago. It was held in a very relaxed setting, with an intimate group of people from the school choice movement, which allowed everyone to spend more quality time with the couple than I’m sure they’d have been able to offer under ordinary circumstances.

Rose left a lasting impression on me as a strong, brilliant woman who was equally capable of taking the spotlight or stepping aside to let her husband shine, and knew intuitively when to do both. I’m sure as the accolades roll in, we will hear from many who will remember her as a genius economist and passionate lover of liberty. And she was definitely that. But in the short time I spent with her, I saw a wonderful, modern example of a woman who knew how to complement her husband without being lost in his shadow, who seemed to be made of equal parts velvet and steel. She was a great lady, in every sense of the word.