From Conservative to Libertarian: Some Memories of Robert D. Kephart.

By His Widow, Janet Kephart

[Editor’s Note: Robert Kephart was instrumental in providing the seed money in 1981 to begin The Voluntaryists.]

When I met Robert Kephart in 1968, he was and had been for most of his life, a conservative. His “dream job” came to him in 1964 when he became publisher of HUMAN EVENTS, a well known and well respected conservative publication. He eventually became part owner, along with the two editors, Thomas Winter and Alan Ryskind.

Around 1971, Bob, quite by accident, met someone who introduced him to the ideas and principles of libertarianism and to some of the libertarian luminaries such as Karl Hess, Roy Childs, Walter Block, Murray Rothbard, and many others. He soaked up the information like a sponge. As with so many other things in his life, he was determined to know everything about it and set out to meet everyone associated with it.

In 1972, he started a newsletter called BOOKS FOR LIBERTARIANS, which in 1974 was turned into a publication called LIBERTARIAN REVIEW, edited by Roy Childs. His political ideas continued to be shaped and he “no longer accepted the political process as a road to social progress and became a hard-core libertarian” (David Dittman, PERSONAL FINANCE, 12/23/09). This was a perfect summation of Bob.

Also in 1974, we left HUMAN EVENTS and started Kephart Communications, Inc. to publish financial newsletters. PERSONAL FINANCE, at its peak, had about 100,000 subscribers. From that grew TAX ANGLES (with Vern Jacobs) and SURVIVAL TOMORROW (with Karl Hess). There was also Audio-Forum, a spoken-word cassette service, and Alexandria House Books. Everything Bob associated himself with was cast in a libertarian, or anarchistic, light. He couldn’t help it – it was so embedded in his brain and his being that there was no other way he could think about things and he lived it every day.

Along the way Doug Casey, Andrea Rich, Mark Skousen, Jack Pugsley, Robert LeFevre, John Hospers, Harry Browne … the list goes on and on with many, too many, people to list here, all influenced Bob.

Bob was legend for helping people – getting them jobs, mending broken friendships, offering advice. He always said what was on his mind. I don’t think I ever saw him hesitate to help when some one asked (and often when they didn’t!). He was kind, generous and loving … but could be crusty, impatient, and very forthright. Those who got one of his “I thought you were my friend…” letters knew they better figure out what went wrong.

He was a true friend of liberty and I will always miss him!

Scroll to Top