Albion Interactive History / People / Bruce Borthwick

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / <Albion College

Bruce Borthwick, 1938-2002
Community Activist, Professor

     Died November 16, 2002

Former Political Science Professor Bruce
Borthwick Dies at Age 64
Posted Monday, November 18, 2002

ALBION, Mich. Bruce Borthwick, longtime Albion College politicalscience professor and community activist, died Saturday, Nov. 16,at his home in Albion following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Hewas 64.

A member of the Albion faculty from 1965 to 2000, Borthwicktaught courses on comparative politics, political systems ofEurope, international foreign policy, and American foreign policy.An expert in Middle Eastern and Chinese politics, Borthwick wroteone of the first textbooks on Middle East politics for Prentice Hallpublishers, and he team-taught a seminar on Islam, Judaism andthe Middle East with former Albion College Religious StudiesProfessor Frank Frick. He was chair of the political sciencedepartment from 1975 to 1982.

“Bruce approached the challenge of cancer with the same dignity and resolve that he faced allother aspects of his life,” said Albion College President Peter Mitchell. “His courage, faith, anddetermination enabled him to put even a life-threatening illness in context and perspective. Hefaced death with integrity and confidence and in the process elevated the noble quality of thehuman condition.”

While studying and teaching the world, Borthwick focused much of his activism close to home. Hewas instrumental in the development of public housing for low-income families in Albion, and hewas active in the NAACP, helping to open doors and erase barriers for Albion’s African Americanpopulation. In 1963, he and his wife, Doris, participated in the March on Washington.”Bruce was very active in the life of the community,” recalled Myron Levine, Albion Collegeprofessor of political science.

Borthwick was involved in a variety of community organizations, including the Albion CommunityNon-Profit Housing Corporation, First Presbyterian Church, Albion Area Ambulance Service,Citizens to Beautify Albion, and the City of Albion’s Zoning Board of Appeals. In 1999, he waselected president of the Albion chapter of NAACP, and this year received the NAACP OutstandingService Award. He was an active member of the Albion Sister City Committee, participating ionthe first delegation to Noisy-le-Roi, France, in 1997.

“He added to my education,” Levine said. “He was an expert in the Middle East and China, but I’llalways remember that he taught me about Albion and its history. Bruce also afforded others greatrespect. He was actively concerned with Arab politics, but always gave my concerns on Israel fullrespect. He never once tried to force his views on me. Bruce believed that all voices should bereflected in the curriculum.”

A past president of the Michigan Conference of Political Scientists, Borthwick studied in China in1984-85 and was the first professor at Albion College to examine Chinese politics separately fromChinese history, according to Levine. More recently, Levine said, Borthwick had studied theemergence of the European Union as well as the growing importance of “supranational”organizations in international affairs.

Throughout his career Borthwick studied extensively in Europe and across the Middle East. In1998, he studied Middle Eastern water policy, traveling to Amman, Jordan, to examine the issue.

In 1987, he participated in a Fulbright Seminar in Pakistan. He spoke Arabic, German and French.Bruce Maynard Borthwick was born May 2, 1938 in Port Jefferson, Long Island, N.Y., the first childof Rev. George Borthwick and Helen Maynard Borthwick, and was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., andTroy, N.Y. Borthwick earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1959 from SyracuseUniversity. Moving to Michigan the same year, Borthwick earned a master’s degree in NearEastern studies in 1960 and Ph.D. in political science in 1965, both from the University ofMichigan, where he met his future wife, Doris Ann Esch. They were married in 1963. Borthwickwas a lecturer in government at Georgetown University in 1964-65 before being hired by AlbionCollege.

Borthwick also enjoyed physical activity with his family, including bicycling, hiking, camping,swimming, canoeing and walking. He planned and led numerous summer camping and canoeingtrips with his wife and children and the extended family. He also was an avid cook, teachingChinese cooking in adult education classes in Albion and elsewhere in mid-Michigan. Heintroduced his “Presbyterian egg rolls” at the Festival of the Forks.

Borthwick is survived by his wife, Doris, and their children Andrew Eliot Borthwick, 36, of Brooklyn,N.Y., Philip Vernon Borthwick, 33, of Jackson, Mich., and Hannah Laura Borthwick, 27, of SanFrancisco, Calif., as well as two grandchildren. He also is survived by his father, GeorgeBorthwick, of Troy, N.Y., his brothers Alan Borthwick of New York, N.Y., and David Borthwick ofCambridge, N.Y., and his sister, Katherine Borthwick Morgan of Granby, Conn.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church ofAlbion on Porter Street. Visitation will be at the J. Kevin Tidd Funeral Home on Friday, Nov. 22,from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. There will be visitation from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at thePresbyterian Church. Interment will take place at a later date at the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy,N.Y.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 305 E.Porter, Albion, Mich. 49224; Albion College, c/o President’s Office, 611 E. Porter, Albion, Mich.49224; and Good Samaritan Hospice Care, 166 E. Goodale Ave., Battle Creek, Mich. 49017.

Source: Albion College, Office of Communications Press Release, November 18, 2002