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Community service for Howard Wolpe at Miller Auditorium

by Thom Myers

Dec. 6, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Howard Wolpe.
Howard Wolpe

KALAMAZOO--Former U.S. Representative and member of the faculty at Western Michigan University Howard Wolpe will be remembered in a celebration of life and tribute at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Miller Auditorium.

Among those scheduled to speak are former U.S. Reps David Bonior and Mark Schauer; former state representative Lynn Johndahl; Steve McDonald, director of the Africa Program of the Woodrow Wilson Institute; Chester Rogers, former chair of the WMU political science department; Moses Walker, former executive director of Kalamazoo's Douglass Community Association; and Charles Warfield of the Kalamazoo NAACP.

Musical selections will be performed by Gregory Harrell of the WMU School of Music and by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.

A reception will immediately follow the celebration.

Wolpe died Oct. 25 at his home in Saugatuck, Mich., at age 71. A memorial service will also be held in Washington, D.C., at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Ronald Reagan Building.

Memorial donations may be made to the Woodrow Wilson Center, Africa Program, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20004-3027.

Howard Wolpe

A member of WMU's political science faculty from 1967 to 1972, Howard Wolpe was named the University's first distinguished visiting professor in 1993.

Wolpe served three years on the Kalamazoo City Commission, 1969-72; four years in the Michigan House of Representatives, 1973-77; and 14 years, 1978-92, in the U.S. House, representing a district that included most of Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Lansing. Wolpe was the Democratic Party's nominee for governor in 1994, losing to incumbent John Engler.

While serving in Congress, Wolpe built a reputation in African affairs, which he taught at WMU, and was credited with a major role in passing the federal anti-apartheid act in 1986.

Photo of Howard Wolpe.
Wolpe lectured at WMU in September
Under President Bill Clinton, Wolpe was named Presidential Special Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes Region, where he led the U.S. delegation to the Arusha and Lusaka peace talks, which aimed to end civil wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He returned to the State Department as Special Advisor to the Secretary for Africa's Great Lakes Region. He also served as director for the Africa Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Wolpe retained close ties to WMU throughout his distinguished career in public service.

"Hundreds of our students have been recipients of Wolpe Scholarships, and dozens of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members have received grants for study abroad and field work in Africa from the Wolpe Endowment," said Dr. John Clark, WMU chair of political science.

In September, Wolpe spoke at WMU on "My Life in Congress and the Changing Political Scene" as part of a life-long learning program sponsored by the University.

A native of California, Wolpe is survived by his wife, Julie Fletcher, of Saugatuck and his son, Michael Wolpe, of Los Angeles.