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In Memoriam: Hugh Heclo, Robinson Professor of Public and International Affairs

August 10, 2017   /   by John Hollis


Hugh Heclo, a Robinson Professor of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University, died at the Blue Ridge Hospice Care Center in Winchester, Va., on Aug. 6 at the age of 74.

A lifelong educator, Heclo was recognized by his peers as an expert on American democratic institutions, as well as the international development of modern welfare states. He served as a professor of government at Harvard University and as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., before coming to George Mason as a Clarence J. Robinson Professor in 1987. Heclo remained at Mason until his retirement in 2014, when he was unanimously bestowed professor emeritus status by his colleagues and the university administration.

“He was beyond a distinguished professor,” said Paul D’Andrea, friend and Robinson Professor of Theater and English. “He was preeminent in his field.”

Heclo, who was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration, was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985-86 and served on the Scholars’ Council advising the Library of Congress and its Kluge Center.

A Ronald Reagan Scholar, Heclo wrote many articles on the Reagan presidency and authored or co-authored several books, including “On Thinking Institutionally” and “Christianity and American Democracy.”

Heclo, who was known as a superb communicator with a masterful grasp of his subjects, is credited for rebuilding Mason’s introductory political course, D’Andrea said.

When not writing or in the classroom, Heclo could often be found at his beloved Christmas tree farm, Ashcroft Farm, in Clarke County, Va.

Heclo is survived by his wife of 46 years, Beverley Carole Heclo, their daughter, Ashley Rebecca Heclo, son-in-law Marcus Berggren and brother-in-law Archer Dowdy and his family.

A funeral service for Heclo will be held at the Berryville Presbyterian Church in Berryville, Va., at 11 a.m. on Aug. 19.