Obituary: Franklin W. Houn, Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Franklin W. Houn
Franklin W. Houn 1978

Franklin W. Houn, 93, professor emeritus of political science, died Feb. 3 in Silver Spring, Md.

Born in Hequ, China, he received his bachelor’s degree in 1946 from National Zhengzhi University in Nanjing. From 1946-47, he was associate editor of the National Government Gazette. From 1947-48, he was administrative secretary at Presidential Office of China, press-liaison secretary of the National Assembly of China and executive director of the Chinese Association of Social Sciences.

After the communists established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he came to the U.S. on a Department of State Grant and completed his master’s at the University of Denver and his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin.

He served on the research staff at Stanford University from 1955-57 before accepting an appointment as an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where he taught for two years, before joining the University of Dubuque faculty in 1959 as an associate professor. He also taught at the University of Nebraska from 1960-63 when he was appointed associate professor of government at UMass.

Houn specialized in Chinese communist politics and policies, traditional Chinese political culture, East Asian foreign policies, comparative politics and international relations. He published four books and several dozen articles in academic journals and other well-known publications. His “A Short History of Chinese Communism” (1967), was a groundbreaking analysis and review of the socio- and political origins of the Communist Party to its post-1949 political structure under Mao Zedong’s leadership and the reform policies. The book highlighted the positive contributions of the Communist Party to the building of China, predicting the rise of China to be a world power. The book, which the U.S. Military Academy declared required reading for its cadets was reviewed by Clarence Peterson, senior editor at the Washington Post’s Book World, who said, “Everyone should read at least one book a year that shakes the foundations of his beliefs. For many of us, ‘A Short History of Chinese Communism,’ by Franklin W. Houn is such a book.”

After retirement in 1990, Houn lived for 10 years in southern California. Since 2000, he lived in Silver Spring, where he attended lectures in the Washington, D.C., area on U.S.-China relations.

Houn leaves his son Fred Wei-han Ho of Brooklyn, N.Y., his daughters Florence Houn of Potomac, Md., and Flora Houn Hoffman of Saratoga, Calif., and three grandchildren.