From his early years, Kenneth Roose encountered challenges to his conscience and values. Ken was born in Argonia, Kansas on November 5, 1919. His family moved to North Hollywood, California in 1928, where he attended high school and was part of the Methodist youth groups that advocated for the United States to stay out of the war.

Throughout his life, Ken was provided many opportunities to take unpopular stands. He declined to serve in the military during World War II and refused to sign the McCarthy-era loyalty oath while teaching Economics at the University of California Los Angeles. Robert Blauner, author of Resisting McCarthyism: To Sign or Not to Sign California’s Loyalty Oath stated that “Roose’s principal reason for not signing was an opposition to political tests for employment. He also believed in defending everyone’s civil liberties, without exception.”

In 1951, Ken helped found the ACLU North Central Chapter in Oberlin, Ohio. On January 23, 1954, representatives from eight affiliates in Ohio met in Marion and organized the Ohio Civil Liberties Union Board of Directors; Ken was elected treasurer. In the same month, Ken, along with another early ACLU leader, Max Ratner, were involved with the Spring 1954 biennial meeting at the national ACLU. There they objected to the ACLU’s “1940 Resolution” that stated no member was allowed to serve on the board or staff of the ACLU who supported totalitarian governments. The resolution led to the expulsion of one board member, which Ken and Max vociferously protested.

Ken was author of The Economics of Recession and Revival, An Interpretation of 1937-38. He also served as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, DC in 1956-1957.

After teaching at Oberlin College for 11 years, Ken relocated to create a business administration program at Michigan State University. He then served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Pennsylvania State University starting in 1964. He was Vice President of the American Council on Education from 1968-1970.

In regard to his work in college administration, Ken once commented that, “I was on a career path that was leading me to a college presidency. But the campuses were on fire with student protests at that time. I thought it would be a no-win proposition to try to balance the First Amendment rights of the students with the educational mission.”

In Men of Peace: World War II Conscientious Objectors, edited by Mary R. Hopkins, Ken was asked what he is most proud of. He responded, “I can think of three things, all of which I think required some degree of courage and I still take pride in them. First, it was to be a Conscientious Objector, second to be a non-signer of the Loyalty Oath and third to be, with my wife, parents of four such fine children.”

Roose died at the age of 96 on April 24, 2016 in Oberlin, Ohio. You can read his obituary in the Oberlin News Tribune.