Richard A. De Angelis ’62

Richard Arthur De Angelis died unexpectedly in Marseille, France, on July 30, 2021, of pneumonia. Born May 4, 1944, he contracted polio when only 2 ½, giving him a slight limp. Rick spent three years of his early childhood in Athens, Greece, where his father worked for the American mission, later the Marshall plan. He entered Williston Academy in 1958 when his father moved with the rest of the family to Bologna, Italy, for an appointment as professor of public administration. Rick excelled academically at the prep school, becoming valedictorian of his class and editor of the school newspaper.

Rick graduated in 1966 from Harvard, where he studied under the noted sociologist Lawrence Wylie. Wylie introduced him to field research in France, and enabled his participation as one of seventeen student authors of Chanzeaux: A Village in Anjou, the portrait of a rural community in western France; the book served as a conservative counterpart to Wylie’s acclaimed Village in the Vaucluse. Rick’s Francophilia continued in graduate school, bringing him the acquaintance of his future wife Françoise and some riveting experiences of near revolution in Paris during the 1968 Events of May. His experiences then would inform his dissertation, published in 1982 as Blue-Collar Workers and Politics: A French Paradox. World politics would continue to dominate Rick’s professional life, as he gained his doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago (1979, where he studied with Nathan Leites and Aristide Zolberg. Rick went on to teach in universities in San Diego, Nancy (France), Zaria (northern Nigeria), Adelaide, and, for a three-year period, in Bologna at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins.

Rick spent the bulk of his academic career at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, where he found the academic community intellectually congenial, the climate ideal, and the landscape endlessly appealing (in a brief autobiography he called his time in Australia “almost paradise”). In later years he fought a rearguard action against the Australian government’s educational reforms, propelled by a belief that privatization, bureaucratization, and the elimination of intermediating review bodies undermined the unusual progressive, international character of Flinders. In 2009 he retired to live with his wife in the Provençale village of Sérignan, where he worked on a French version of his political thriller, The Adler Tape. Rick’s wife of 52 years, an accomplished poet with a compelling predilection for the natural world, suffered a severe stroke in January, 2020 and died after a prolonged, hospital-bound illness just two days before Rick.

Predeceased by his wife, Rick is survived by his daughters Cybèle Coquis and Christina De Angelis; his son-in-law Eric Coquis; two grandsons, Antoine and Alexandre Coquis—all in France; his sisters Nancy Morgan and Anita De Angelis; and his brother Paul.

2 thoughts on “Richard A. De Angelis ’62”

  1. I was saddened to learn of Rick’s passing. What an extraordinarily successful, eclectic, and beneficent life he had! In retrospect, I wish I had known Rick better during our Williston years.

  2. Very sorry to learn of Rick’s passing. I remember Rick as one not afraid to call things as he saw them. Once, when Rick and I were seated at the same table in the Ford Hall dining room, Phil Stevens sauntered over to our table during lunch and directed Rick into the nearby faculty lounge, where he proceeded to rake Rick over the coals about what he, Phil, considered to be too controversial an article recently published in the Willistonian, of which Rick was the editor in chief. After some shouting behind the closed doors of the lounge, Rick returned to the dining room table. Rick said the upshot was that Phil told him the Willistonian was Phil’s newspaper, not Rick’s, and it would publish only what Phil considered acceptable. Critical thinking back then stopped at the headmaster’s door.

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