Roy Weatherford (1943-2020)
UPDATE--November 11, 2020: Please see this moving Veteran's Day tribute to Roy Weatherford from Congresswoman Kathy Castor.
Roy Carter Weatherford, PhD, was born in Middlebrook, Arkansas, on May 30, 1943, when
his family lived in a log cabin without electricity. He rose from there to earn a
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Doris Weatherford, as well as their daughter Margaret Prater and son-in-law Jeffrey R. Prater of Manassas, Virginia. He was predeceased by his parents, Rev. Frank Carter Weatherford and Winona Luter Weatherford, and a brother, Wendell Weatherford. Surviving siblings are Gail Lawson of Missouri and David Weatherford of Jacksonville. He leaves other loving family from California to Maryland and from Minnesota to Texas.
Roy graduated from Arkansas Tech in 1964, and having placed in the 99th percentile in every category of the Graduate Record Exam, he received a full fellowship to Harvard. After a year, he joined the Army Security Agency; he and Doris married on February 8, 1966, while he was assigned near the Pentagon. He contracted tuberculosis and was in the Army’s Valley Forge (PA) hospital for six months before returning to Harvard, where he was a Danforth Graduate Fellow. His master’s degree thesis, “The Heisenberg Uncertainty Relations,” won the Bectel Prize in Philosophy. He earned his doctorate in philosophy in 1972. He and Doris moved to Tampa, and Roy taught at the University of South Florida for 35 years; he never sought another job and, indeed, turned down some offers.
In addition to numerous articles, he published Philosophical Foundations of Probability Theory, Implications of Determinism, and World Peace and the Human Family. Elected president of the Florida Philosophical Association, he won a place in three summer seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a featured speaker at many conferences; the International Congress of Philosophy invited him to present a paper in England and a Korean university paid for him and Doris to spend a month there. Roy also developed a television course, “Professional Ethics,” that ran on WUSF-TV for many years. During the threat to civil liberties after 9-11, he went on “The O’Reilly Factor” several times to defend USF, which Bill O’Reilly had called a “hotbed of terrorism.” One of these appearances was re-broadcast on BBC.
Devoted to academic unionism, he was singular in having been an officer in the American Association of University Professors, the Florida Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Florida AFL-CIO, the Hillsborough County Central Labor Council, and especially the United Faculty of Florida, of which he was president. He also was elected to the executive board of the 3-million member National Education Association. During the tenure of Governors Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles, he held offices in the Florida Democratic Party. He was a guest at the White House during Jimmy Carter’s administration and was a delegate to the national convention that nominated President Bill Clinton.
His death on April 19, 2020, was the result of congestive heart failure and a fall on Thanksgiving weekend. He had been in the James Haley Veterans Hospital since December 10 after complications from neck surgery.