Bob Kephart was a friend and hero to many people. Although his name is little known, he made innumerable contributions to the world around him, great and small, especially in organizing, encouraging, and supporting people who worked for human dignity and freedom.

On June 8, 2004, Bob passed away peacefully in the company of his family and best friend. No funeral services are planned. Rather than sending flowers, his wife suggests that those who want to honor Bob's memory send a donation to the prostate cancer research organization that he worked closely with over the past three years.

Prostate Cancer Research Institute
5777 Century Boulevard, Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90045

To share personal remembrances of Bob, click here.

Robert D. Kephart (1934-2004)

This obituary written by Jo Ann Skousen appeared in the August 2004 issue of Liberty Magazine.

Publisher and philanthropist Robert D. Kephart died on June 8, 2004, at his home in Belleair Shore, Florida, surrounded by his wife and business-partner Janet, his son Patrick, his daughter Lara, and his best friend Jack Pugsley. He treated the cancer that invaded his body as he treated government encroachment on our liberty: with an intensely researched, heroic, all-out battle. Born September 9, 1934, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Colorado, Bob was a self-educated man who started out as a bookkeeper for a railroad and ended up as a publisher and direct-market innovator who had a passion for liberty and moral rectitude.

Bob was a great American who spent his life and his money promoting individual liberty through publications, contributions to freedom-oriented organizations, and support for individual writers. He was a publisher of Human Events and an early supporter of Laissez Faire Books, the world's largest publisher of books on libertarian topics. He founded Libertarian Review magazine and Books for Libertarians in the 1970s, influencing thousands of young people who became advocates of a free society. He was dedicated to the cause of liberty.

In the early 1970s, Bob concluded that he no longer accepted the political process as a road to social progress and became a hard-core libertarian. At that point he parted ways with the conservative publication Human Events and founded Kephart Communications, Inc. (KCI), a financial publishing firm focused on promoting free-market economics and hard-money investing. KCI published Inflation Survival Letter (later Personal Finance), which highlighted unorthodox investments that have become mainstream today.

Many of the big names in libertarian circles got their start writing for Inflation Survival Letter, including Doug Casey, Adrian Day, Richard Band, Gary Alexander, Jim McKeever, Don Hauptman, and Mark Skousen, who was managing editor of ISL from 1975-1980. After ISL published a review of Jack Pugsley's book, Common Sense Economics, Bob and Jack became acquainted and subsequently close friends. Numerous other writers and philosophers were supported by Bob as well, but always quietly, from deep behind the scenes. A private, modest person, Bob shunned the limelight, and would probably be unhappy to read this article about himself! His focus was on helping others to shine. Even as he was battling cancer, he was enthusiastically involved in helping Jack Pugsley to establish his new project, the Bio-Rational Institute.

Intensely supportive of those who were anxiously engaged in a good cause, Bob offered both support and guidance to countless diverse causes, including Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Forfeiture Endangers American Rights, Human Rights Watch, Institute for Justice, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Post-Conviction Relief, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Foundation for Economic Education, Cato Institute, Future of Freedom Foundation, R.A. Childs Fund for Independent Scholars, and Separation of School and State Alliance. In 1998 he won the eighth annual Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties.

Bob's interests went far beyond public policy and promoting individual liberty. He was a writer, an artist, a one-time truck driver (!), a baseball player who tried out for the Chicago Cubs, a consummate host, a dedicated family man, a loyal friend. His paintings of children and beach scenes grace the walls of his home and the Christmas cards that he designed himself. His eclectic interests led him to support Doug Casey's creation, The Eris Society, an organization of mostly libertarians who meet in Aspen every summer to discuss topics related to philosophy, history, science, arts, health, and education. As usual, his efforts remained behind the scenes, often in the form of providing financial support for speakers.

Many of us who have known Bob for decades knew his feisty side as well as his philanthropic side. Fiercely loyal to his friends, he could be fiercely critical as well when one of his friends disappointed him. You knew you were "on his list" again when you found a handwritten page from a yellow legal pad folded up, stapled, and left on your desk. These letters usually began, "I thought you were my friend," and would continue in great detail as he outlined the offense. With the advent of the internet the yellow legal pad gave way to email, but the intent was the same: Bob never pulled his punches when he thought someone was slipping philosophically or morally. But his anger never lasted long, and the friendship always returned, stronger than ever. How I would love to receive one of those letters again! "I thought you were my friend," it would begin, and before he could finish I would respond heartily, "I am, Bob, I am."

These comments are from Don Hauptman.

Bob took a chance on me at the beginning, even though I had almost no experience. I owe my whole career to him.

Of course, he was a great networker. He recommended me to other libertarian and conservative publishers, many of whom also became my clients. Remarkably, yet perhaps characteristically, he referred me to a prospective client before we had even met!

People often ask me to what I attribute my success. My answer is always the same: "I had a mentor."

Click here for Don Hauptman's full comments for Bob's memorial service.

This is excerpted from "THE TRANSIT OF VENUS" by Bill Bonner. It was written for The Daily Reckoning.

Bob Kephart was practically the founder of our entire industry. In the 1970s he began a financial newsletter called the Inflation Survival Letter. He warned against the double-digit inflation of the period-before-Volcker and showed readers how to cope with it. Later, when inflation rates headed down, the letter became "Personal Finance," which continues to this day.

At one time or other, almost everyone in the business worked for Bob or with him. He was a demanding man who drove himself and everyone around him to do better, to think clearer, to work harder. But he had a sentimental side, too. He couldn't resist trying to help people he knew - even when they were beyond help. He was the person people turned to when they needed to be bailed out of jail, rescued from a hopeless business deal, or restored after a broken heart. He always had the courage to help people - even those who had been disgraced, dissipated themselves, and been abandoned by their friends.

Bob said he had never seen evidence of God. But God could not have missed Bob. He used his heart and brain fully... working so hard he must have worn them out. He never backed down from an idea, never abandoned a friend, and never surrendered.

Click here for the full article "The Transit of Venus."

The following from Ron & Tami Holland, entitled "ROBERT KEPHART PASSES AWAY," is excerpted from

It is with great sadness that we report that Robert Kephart passed away early this morning [June 8, 2004] after a long fight with cancer.

Very much a man behind the scenes, he was very active in many libertarian causes for over thirty years. He single-handedly gave a start to literally dozens of shining lights in the conservative economics and libertarian fields. He will be missed by many.

Bob was a close personal friend and business associate for many years and a quiet man who stayed away from crowds and the limelight. But if you ever attended an offshore financial conference, read any financial newsletters or other books on limited government and freedom, I promise you that chances are Bob Kephart was involved in some way with the project. Few of you know of him or of his contribution to the freedom movement and that is the way he wanted it but he was a giant among men, with a heart and sometimes a temper to match.

Although raised an Episcopalian, he had no religious affiliation and had a very low opinion of Churches and religion in particular. I once was asked by my daughters who was the most Christ-like man I knew. I surprised them without a second's hesitation, saying Bob Kephart. In fact, we thought so highly of Bob and his wife Janet that had something happened to us in all our travels, our youngest Heidi would have had the opportunity to live with them.

Bob Kephart spent his entire life fighting government tyranny and controls. Now Bob, you are finally, "Free At Last"!

This is a quote from Mark Skousen's "Robert D. Kephart, RIP."

In late 1974, Bob hired me to be managing editor of the Inflation Survival Letter and opened a whole new world to me. He was a friend who got me started in the financial world, and I will always be grateful to his guidance and support. If it weren't for Bob, my life would have been totally different, and not for the better I'm sure. After I went out on my own in 1980, Bob always kept in touch. He was not a public man, but behind the scenes, he supported friends and libertarian causes everywhere.

This press release from 1998, "PUBLISHER, PHILANTHROPIST KEPHART WINS CIVIL LIBERTIES AWARD," is from the Center for Independent Thought.

Publisher and philanthropist Robert D. Kephart has won the eighth annual Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties.

Kephart, 64, of Belleair Shores, Florida, has spent his life promoting freedom through publications and contributions of time and money to organizations mirroring his concern for individual liberty. He has taken a particular interest in individuals sentenced to prison solely for the commission of victimless crimes, such as drug offenses.

For many years he has generously provided guidance and funding for a long list of organizations, including Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Forfeiture Endangers American Rights, Human Rights Watch, Institute for Justice, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Post-Conviction Relief, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He has also been a benefactor to organizations working for economic liberty and general restrictions on government power. These include the Foundation for Economic Education, Cato Institute, Future of Freedom Foundation, R.A. Childs Fund for Independent Scholars, and Separation of School and State Alliance.

Kephart founded Libertarian Review magazine and Books for Libertarians in the 1970s. Both publications were instrumental in bringing ideas about freedom to thousands of young people, many of whom have gone on to become prominent advocates in the cause of the free society. He was also the publisher of Personal Finance.

The award, which includes a plaque and a $1,000 prize, honors Thomas Szasz, the renowned psychiatrist who has devoted his career to defending civil liberties against government encroachment in the name of mental and physical health. Past winners include computer-privacy champion Philip Zimmermann, property-rights scholar Richard Epstein, British economist Peter Bauer, author Karl Hess, investigative journalist James Bovard, and Julie Stewart, founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The award is a project of the Center for Independent Thought in New York City.

In the last years of his life, Bob made this Dylan Thomas couplet his personal motto. He never gave up, and never stopped fighting for the causes he believed in.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

To read more and share your own personal remembrances of Bob, click here.

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