Former UI campaigner and academic dies at 88

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Former UI campaigner and academic dies at 88

Paul Carlsten (Contributed)

Paul Carlsten (Contributed)

Paul Carlsten (Contributed)

Paul Carlsten (Contributed)


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University of Iowa alumnus Paul Robert Carlsten, a life-long political campaigner whose connections to Democrat politics, the civil rights movement and religious freedoms date back to the 1940s, has died after a long illness.

Paul, 88, lived in Iowa City. He loved jazz, debate, travel, politics, baseball (the Phillies specifically), and learning. He had time for everyone, and not enough time to tell all of his stories.

Paul was born in Clinton County, Indiana on March 3, 1930. He attended school in Bryan, Ohio, where he was honored by the state of Ohio as the top student during his eighth year. He graduated from Oskaloosa High School in 1948, receiving a national award for Best Young Journalist during his senior year.

He briefly attended Wheaton College and the University of Iowa but the Korean War intervened. Paul served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1954 (Airman Second Class) and excelled at USAF Officer Training School.

A beneficiary of the GI Bill, Paul earned his B.A. and M.A. in Economics and Political Science at the University of Iowa. He then went on to complete his Ph.D. coursework at the University of Chicago.

As a Professor of Political Science, Paul taught at Cornell College, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was much loved by his students for his passion, wit and decency.

On Dec. 27, 1960 Paul married Rosemarie (Bougie), a historian and political activist; they were married for 58 years and raised five children together.

While at the UI, Paul distinguished himself as a Finkbine Scholar, served as President of the Young Democrats, taught and published research, and was involved in the International Writers’ Workshop. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta, and of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.

He was active in the civil rights movement. He was a member of the National Council for Amish Religious Freedom and a founding member of the Community Council on Race Relations.

Paul was deeply involved in Democratic campaigns, including those of Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, John F. Kennedy, Estes Kefauver and Jimmy Carter. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1956 and 1968, and continued his efforts to elect Democratic candidates to the end. Paul was a strong believer in the potential of American democracy; progressive politics; justice; civil rights and individual freedom.

Paul’s work with the Carter administration took him to Washington, D.C. area in 1976, where he worked first for the administration and later for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, until his retirement in 1997.

Upon retirement, Paul and Rosemarie returned to Iowa City, where Paul enjoyed being close to student life, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, and women’s basketball. He spent holidays with his children and grandchildren across the country and overseas.

Paul died on Oct. 10 at Simpson Memorial Home, West Liberty. He is survived by his wife Rosemarie and their children – Arne, Lise (Andrew), Britta, Jenny (Peter) and Annika – and grandchildren – James, Matthew, Joshua, Gabriel, Anders, Sam, Madeleine-Rose, and Max – by his dear nieces and nephews, and by Bob Clarke and Peter Coye.

Paul is preceded in death by his parents Esther and Emil, and by his beloved sister Virginia Gladding, Mary Krakora, and brothers Earl, Alan and John Carlsten. A memorial service will be held in the summer of 2019.

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