One of the great missionaries of classical learning and American freedom passed away over the weekend. J. Rufus Fears was David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he held the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. He also served as David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a state policy think tank based in Oklahoma City. Dr. Fears was a distinguished scholar of the classics and edited the three-volume collection of the writings of Lord Acton, whom Fears greatly admired as a tireless defender of liberty and prescient critic of statism in Europe.
Rufus Fears is perhaps best known outside of Oklahoma, however, for his fantastic series of lectures published by the Teaching Company. These works represent nearly 150 hours of entertaining and insightful presentations on subjects ranging from mythology, classical literature, and the Great Books to the political, religious, and intellectual history of Europe, the Americas, and beyond. As it happens, I was just listening to his fascinating 36-lecture series on the history of freedom when I learned of Professor Fears’s untimely death.