Passings: Professor Emeritus John Ridpath

A candle
York University Professor Emeritus John B. Ridpath, died March 23 following a long illness. Known as an adventurous spirit, Ridpath was an accomplished scholar and sailor who had a passion for travel to far-flung destinations.
John Ridpath
John Ridpath

Ridpath was described as a legendary lecturer who, in his 30-year career as associate professor of economics and intellectual history at York University, inspired tens of thousands of students to have confidence in their own minds, think for themselves and to live their lives with passion and enthusiasm. During his long career, he received numerous teaching awards and was much sought after throughout Europe and North America as an engaging and charismatic public speaker.

“Professor Ridpath” was beloved by students. He was an intellectual activist and a lifelong advocate of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, known as Objectivism, and he came to know Rand personally. His many lectures on Objectivism and on the history of the American Revolution, were very popular within the Objectivist community. He contributed articles to The Objectivist Forum and served for many years on the board of the Ayn Rand Institute.

From his education at Upper Canada College, the University of Toronto and the University of Virginia, to his work on the renowned Avro Arrow and storied teaching career; Ridpath lived a life of unwavering devotion to his values.

He journeyed to Mount Everest in the company of Sir Edmund Hillary. He embarked on a whitewater canoe trip on the remote Nahanni River at the age of 64. He embraced adventure in all aspects of his life.

Above all, he loved his family, enjoyed his cottage on Canoe Lake and his second home in Los Angeles. He was many things to many people, but he was unquestionably one of a kind. In the words of a dear friend, on the occasion of his 75th birthday: “You are always in your world. You always have been.”

Ridpath was predeceased by his devoted ex-wife, Virginia, and is survived by his sister, Joan (David); his three children: Jefferson (Debbie), John Case (Debbie) and Larkin (Rick); and his six grandchildren: Brittany, Olivia, Garrison, Jeffrey, Spencer and Gregory. In keeping with his wishes, a private family farewell has taken place. A celebration of his life will take place at a future date when it is possible.

His family requests that donations in his memory be made to either the Ayn Rand Institute or the Friends of Algonquin Park.