Class of ’66 celebrates life of friend, historian, writer

Stuart Rochester, ’66, died July 29 of melanoma

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April 12, 2010

Years before Stuart Rochester became chief historian of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he was a City College high school graduate who attended Loyola College.

While writing history papers at Loyola, Rochester developed an interest in World War I and the reaction of the American people afterward, as The Greyhound reported in a 1974 interview with Rochester, an assistant professor of history at Loyola during the 1970s.

Rochester is quoted in the story in The Greyhound describing Loyola during his student days as somewhat “austere and cloistered.” “Loyola has changed dramatically,” he told the reporter, “and now it’s infinitely better … as good as I’ve ever known it to be.”

The son of a pharmacist and a teacher, Rochester was born Nov. 24, 1945, in Baltimore. After his graduation from Loyola, Rochester received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He returned to teach at Loyola in 1970.

In 1980 Rochester was hired by the Pentagon’s office of history, where he served as chief editor of the Public Statements of the Secretary of Defense. His responsibilities included conducting research and compiling oral histories. During almost 30 years with the Pentagon Historical Office, Rochester rose to deputy historian in 1987 and chief historian in 2008.

Rochester was co-author of Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961-1973, considered to be the definitive account on the topic. Other books he authored included Takeoff at Mid-Century: Federal Civil Aviation Policy in the Eisenhower Years and American Liberal Disillusionment: In the Wake of World War I.

In addition to his distinguished professional achievements, the Burtonsville, Md., resident also served as the Fairland Master Plan Citizens Advisory Committee and other county committees and task forces. He was a vocal leader in the fight against the Intercounty Connector.

Rochester’s survivors include his wife, Shelley Harris Rochester; his daughter, Molly Rochester; his stepson, Jason Golomb; and three grandchildren.

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