Henry Rosovsky, Who Redefined Harvard to Its Core, Dies at 95

Henry Rosovsky was born on Sept. 1, 1927, in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) to Selig and Sonia Rosovsky, Jewish immigrants from Russia. With Nazi Germany poised to seize the city in 1938, the family fled, first to Belgium and then to France, Spain and Portugal, before arriving in New York in 1940.

His father, a lawyer in pre-revolutionary Russia, became a lumber dealer in America. His mother was a homemaker.

After attending the Cherry Lawn School in Darien, Conn., Henry enlisted in the Army and served in the Counterintelligence Corps at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. In 1949, he graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., on the G.I. Bill. From 1950 to 1952 he served in Korea, where his feet froze; he received a Purple Heart and was transferred to a listening station in Japan to monitor Soviet broadcasts.

He earned a master’s degree from Harvard in 1953 and a doctorate in 1959. He taught at Stanford, at Hitotsubashi and Tokyo Universities in Japan, and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In addition to his daughter Leah, the director of the venerable library the Boston Athenaeum, he is survived by his wife, Nitza (Brown) Rosovsky, an Israeli-born author and a former curator of the Harvard Semitic Museum; two other children, Judy Rosovsky and Michael Rosovsky; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

In 1959, he was hired by the University of California, Berkeley. He taught economics, history and Japanese studies there until 1965, when he joined an exodus of professors fleeing student unrest for what they misguidedly figured would be more sedate campuses further east.

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