Dr. Francis E. Rourke, 82, author, Hopkins political science professor


Dr. Francis E. Rourke, a retired Johns Hopkins University political science professor who wrote extensively on politics and government, died Saturday of congestive heart failure and pneumonia at the Chestnut Green, Towson nursing home. A Stoneleigh resident for nearly 40 years, he was 82.

Born in New Haven, Conn., Dr. Rourke attended Yale University on a merit scholarship. He taught political science there and at the University of Minnesota, from which he received a doctorate in 1952.

He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1954 and taught there for four decades. He also was director of the 1961 Commission for the Expansion of Public Higher Education in Maryland and was vice chairman of a commission on modernizing the state government's executive branch.

During his Hopkins tenure, Dr. Rourke studied the U.S. presidency and its relationship to federal bureaucracies. Appointed the university's political science department chairman in 1964, he was the Benjamin H. Griswold III professor of public policy studies at his 1994 retirement. He also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Boston College while on sabbatical.

"He was remarkably compassionate and moral without being self-righteous," said Dr. Matthew A. Crenson, a longtime political science colleague and former student. "He had a wicked sense of humor and was an academic peacemaker in the department."

It was as an undergraduate that Dr. Crenson met Dr. Rourke while riding to classes on a transit bus along Loch Raven Boulevard.

"I took to him right away; I aspired to his virtues, his practical wisdom, his serenity and wit and his tolerance for others. He was gentle and kind and he became my adviser on my senior thesis," Dr. Crenson said. "Frank was the reason I got into political science."

Dr. Rourke was the author or editor of numerous books on American government, including Secrecy and Publicity: Dilemmas of Democracy (1961), Bureaucracy, Politics and Public Policy (1969) and Bureaucracy and Foreign Policy (1972). Among his other writings was an article on American government that he contributed to Encyclopedia Britannica.

"He was a man who had so much to be immodest about, and yet he was the most humble person I've ever known," said his son, Stephen Rourke of Baltimore.

Dr. Rourke appeared frequently as an election-night political commentator for WMAR and WJZ-TV from the 1960s through the 1980s. He also often wrote or was quoted in newspaper articles.

In his 1987 Evening Sun op-ed page article on the occasion of the Constitution's 200th anniversary he wrote, "Increasingly, presidents draw their authority not from the powers and responsibilities invested by the Constitution but rather from the mandate they believe the voters have given them on election day."

Dr. Rourke was a member and former treasurer of the American Political Science Association.

A private service was held Sunday. A memorial service is being planned for the fall.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 56 years, the former Lillian Irene Randall; two daughters, Katherine Young of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Anne Becker of Wayland, Mass.; a brother, Joseph Rourke of Tarpon Springs, Fla.; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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