Richard Pancoast Longaker, born July 1, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died at home in the Marquez Knolls area of Pacific Palisades on September 22, 2018.
A resident of Pacific Palisades for over 45 years, Longaker was a professor of political science at UCLA and later served as provost of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore from 1976 through 1987.
The youngest of four children, he grew up on the Main Line of Philadelphia in a family of physicians. His grandfather, Daniel Longaker, was Walt Whitman’s attending doctor during the poet’s final years; father Edwin was an esteemed ear, nose and throat specialist, and older brothers Downs and William also became physicians.
Longaker was 18 when the United States joined the Allies in WWII. Already a skilled mountain climber and skier, he found his place in the newly formed 10th Mountain Division, a special Army unit being trained in Colorado and West Virginia to fight in the Italian and Swiss Alps. In December 1944, he landed in Naples as part of the 86th infantry.
After the war, he enrolled at Swarthmore College, where he met his first wife, Dorothy Seiler. Children Richard, Stephen and Sarah were born while he pursued his academic career. He earned a master’s in history at the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in government at Cornell University in 1954.
He went on to professorships at Kenyon College, UC Riverside and UCLA. As Chairman of the political science department at UCLA, he was tasked with developing the department and hired many scholars who are still in the department to this day. He authored “The Presidency and Individual Liberties” (1961); co-edited “Contemporary Communism” (1963) with Howard Swearer; and co-authored “The Supreme Court and the Commander in Chief” (1976) with Clinton Rossiter.
He met his second wife, Mollie Katz, in 1963, and they married a year later and moved to Pacific Palisades. Their daughter, Rachel, was born in 1965.
In 1976, he became provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University. During his tenure there, he was known as a skilled administrator, adept at navigating the concerns of faculty and students as well as the Hopkins board, donor group and broader community.
Among his achievements at Hopkins were the establishment of the Nursing School, the Center for Talented Youth and the JHU–Nanjing University Center in China. In 1987 he returned to California and opened Hopkins’ West Coast Regional Office for Development.
Upon his retirement, he rode his bike daily at the beach near Temescal Canyon, and he and his wife traveled extensively.
Known for his warm and keen wit, he loved politics, the English language and all manner of literature, the ocean and mountains, wildlife, and the night sky. He kept a quote of Wallace Stevens’ in his office: “It is not every day that the world arranges itself into a poem.”
He is survived by his wife Mollie, son Stephen, daughters Sarah and Rachel, grandchildren Katherine, Andrew, Nicholas, and Hannah, and great-grandchildren Nathalie Mae and Thomas.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Nature Conservancy (support.nature.org/site/Donation2?15000.donation=form1&df_id=15000&resultid=7TV) or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (birds.cornell.edu/page.aspx?pid=1599).
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