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Remembrances of William Rorabaugh

This page is dedicated to the late Professor Emeritus of History, William J. Rorabaugh.

I have not so much a specific anecdote as more general, warm memories of Bill’s gregarious presence around Smith Hall, his endearing curiosity in all of his colleagues and their work, and, above all, his unending devotion to the Department. He was a great scholar and a great colleague, and he will be missed.

- Professor Benjamin Schmidt

Bill was one of those historians who took a great interest in public history. In 2001, taking a bit of a gamble on an as yet untested website, became a founding member of the Board of Directors of the History News Network.

I became friends with Bill in the 1990s when I invited him to join a local Seattle dinner group that meets to discuss politics. We traded memories about him at our most recent gathering (done by Zoom). It was probably the only meeting he missed in more than two decades.

He will be missed by all of us.

- Rick Shenkman, Founder, History News Network, Author of "Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics"

I am very sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. He was a wonderful colleague and I remember him warmly from my time in UW’s History Department. I used to sit in wonder at department meetings when Bill was explaining the esoterica of UW processes and regulations. Bill’s work remains an inspiration and I remember the many excellent papers he presented to us for the department’s research group. Thank you Bill for your generosity and scholarship.

Simon Werrett, UW History 2002-2012

My favorite UW professor, taught my senior seminar on U.S. counterculture from the Beat poets to the Hippie movement in the 1960s. Very sad news as I always enjoyed his stories about anything and everything history, and the discussions we had were always brilliant. Made me proud to be a history major at UW, a school which often overlooks its humanities departments. RIP Professor Rorabaugh. Thank you for your great mind and inspiration.

- Nick Kaley, UW History alumnus '18

I have known Bill Rorabaugh since we both were freshmen at Stanford in the mid-1960s. We roomed together for two years, and always got along supremely well despite our radical divergence of political views. We both also attended Stanford-in-Britain (Harlaxton Manor) in 1966, though we weren’t roommates there. We were both members of the class of 1968 at Stanford, and then our paths went very different directions. Nevertheless, we stayed in touch if only at Christmas time, though there were also various visits. Bill visited my wife and me at our various homes in Connecticut, usually when he was on sabbatical doing research for his next book; and then we visited him for a week or so at his house in Seattle one time. His guidance about what to see in the Seattle area was invaluable. I will miss him.

- Frank Paine

I was a student of Professor Rorabaugh for several years and have so many fond memories of being in his classes. I remember how knowledgeable he was and also how generous he was with his time and expertise. He could seem very serious at times but when a funny anecdote popped up he would burst into contagious laughter. He was my favorite professor and I know he will be truly missed by many.

- Allison Fry, UW History alumnus '03

Bill was always one of the warmest and friendliest colleagues around Smith Hall. I appreciate how generous he was with sharing stories from his research and from his life. I especially encouraged him to tell me all of his stories about the bay area in the 60's and 70's! I will miss him dearly.

- Alexandra Colley, Assistant to the Chair, History

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