David F. Nolan, 1943-2010

I just received a phone call from R. Lee Wrights, who is en route home from the Libertarian National Committee meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after adjournment of the LNC meeting today, he was informed that Libertarian Party founder David F. Nolan has died. Steve Kubby has also reported this, and confirms it via conversation with Nolan’s wife, Elizabeth.

Best wishes from everyone here at IPR to David’s family and loved ones.

We’ll offer further details as appropriate and as we receive them.

74 thoughts on “David F. Nolan, 1943-2010

  1. Gene Trosper

    This news is very hard for me to wrap my head around. During my time in the LP, David was an inspiration. To me, he was THE conscience of the LP. His contributions were great and I shall always cherish the discussions I had with him.

  2. Pete Eyre

    Thanks for the info, bad as it is. David was a great guy and someone who had a significant positive impact on the liberty movement. He’ll be missed. Fortunately, his ideas will live on.

  3. Darryl W. Perry

    I was shocked and saddened to hear the news that David F. Nolan passed away on the morning of November 21, 2010. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Libertarian Party in 1971 and also the creator of the political “map” often referred to as the Nolan Chart.
    I had the pleasure of meeting David on a couple of occasions. He was a nice man and a pleasure to be around. He will be missed not only by myself, but also by thousands of LP members both past and present as well as friends, family & colleagues of different political leanings.

  4. Daniel C.

    What tremendously sad news. Thoughts and prayers for the Nolan family. Requiesce in pace, David.

  5. NewFederalist

    As one who joined the LP in 1974 and met David at various conventions… this is just sad and I’m not quite able to grasp it just yet.

  6. Corey Moore

    The admiration I had for this man cannot be measured. While I never had an opportunity to get to know Mr. Nolan, the few brief conversations we had still stick out in my mind. The instant I heard the news, I broke down in tears…RIP, sir.

  7. Steve Kubby

    David and I talked last week about him coming to work as CFO for my company. Although David had an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, it was not an immediate concern and no other health problems had turned up from his medical exams. His death is a real mystery at this point.

  8. Michael H. Wilson

    Very sad news indeed. My condolences to his family.

    Other than saying, let us make him proud of our work, I am at a loss.

  9. Carolyn Marbry

    The first time I met David was in a buffet line at the LSLA meeting in Vegas in ’08. He tried his best to come off as a crusty old coot because I was with a candidate he did not like or support, but once we started talking about Tucson, a city we both love, it wasn’t long before we were fast friends.

    That morning, he introduced himself in that buffet line simply as “David,” and that was that. No pretension, no lengthy resume stapled to his shirtfront, no “I am a FOUNDER” puffery. Just David.

    And it is David that I will miss going forward. It is David for whom I will light a candle tonight. Not “the Nolan,” not “the founder of the party.” That crusty old faux-coot who became my good friend and mentor, the one who honored me so greatly by being one of my nominators in St. Louis, then honored me yet again by asking me to be one of his nominators. I will miss his smile and his warm hugs. I will miss his wise advice. I will miss him so very much.

    Good bye, David. His quiet sensible manner and quick intelligence could cut to the heart of any nonsense that came before him, and he had no patience with whining or petulance. This was a man who believed in getting things done and getting them done right. This was why I always had the deepest respect for him.

  10. Allison Gibbs

    David Nolan was a mentor to some of us young to Liberty. An amazing man- I am truly saddened to my core at this news.
    Juju is sent to his family and there will always be a special place in my heart for him.

  11. Mike Munger

    Gosh, that’s terrible. He was a great, great man. Just the right combination of short term pessimism and long-term optimism. I last saw him in St. Louis, at the LP convention this year. He looked great. Hard to believe he is gone.

  12. Rob Latham

    I had probably heard of David Nolan before I first met him at a packed hospitality suite in Salt Lake City in 1993. We spent several minutes discussing electoral reform.

    As others have mentioned, I felt comfortable approaching David at the beginning of my involvement with and inquiries about the LP, and have enjoyed sharing many convention meal tables with Elizabeth and him.

    I’m profoundly grateful for David Nolan’s leadership and advocacy for the cause of liberty, and friendship. He will be missed.

  13. Andy

    Oh man, this is HORRIBLE news. David Nolan was an icon in the Libertarian Party as well as the greater Libertarian Movement. I spoke to him in person a few times and he seemed like a great guy. I always enjoyed reading his commentaries as well. He will be sorely missed. RIP.

  14. Starchild

    I’m sad that he did not live to see the freedom to which he dedicated his life. His passing was altogether too soon and unexpected, a real loss for our movement.

  15. LibertarianGirl

    David and I had become quite close. we exchanged private emails about many things , sometimes info i wanted him to know that i couldnt say publicly. my favorite memory was running the straw poll with him at National , ya thats right people , I lied about who was behind it because we wanted accuracy , it was awesome to have a sectret and for our poll to be dead on.

    for an older man he was extremely flirtatious and since i am also we had quite the innocent flirtations back and forth…

    i was supposed to see him this weekend , he was sposed to cometo vegas for a business meeting with Kubby I believe ,and it was postponed.

    instead he asked for some bday pictures , and ya , judge me if you want but i sent them . he wrote he loved them , glad to do it for ya LPDaddy , I will miss you more than words , today I am heartbroken….

  16. Lucy Chronicles

    Oh my… such a loss. David was a friend w/in the last 2 years and one w/ whom I enjoyed discussing not only basic Libertarian philosophy with practical, real solutions moving our party forward to poking at our Nevada favorite local son, love em’ or hate em’, Wayne Root. I frankly enjoyed watching the two of them banter back and forth on FB purely for education as well as entertainment. The last time we visited was at Freedom Fest, Bally’s in Vegas, w/ his wife at the Gary Johnson party sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project.
    He was healthy, gregarious and down to earth as usual as well as very much looking forward to debating McCain – a highlight of many party member’s political year.

    His voice of sanity, balance and heart will be greatly missed. Kaddish will be said for you tonight my friend.

    Blessings to all as we continue to grow this movement.

  17. Tony Wall

    Friends,

    I am honored and humbled to have been friends with the man who founded a political party to coincide with my life’s philosophy. It is our task to preserve the relationship between the libertarian philosophy and the libertarian party for the latter will not survive without the former.

    Rest in Peace,

    Tony Wall

  18. Openworld

    Sad news. I met David while I was a 17 year old high school student in Winchester, MA, where he was then living. David got me into (mercifully brief) libertarian Young Republican activities, and after his move to Colorado asked me to join the Committee to Organize a Libertarian Party, and later the national committee. His courage, foresight and sense of possibilities for a third party political breakthrough was inspiring. He was an history-making person, and his life was uplifting for all who love liberty.

    Mark Frazier

  19. John Jay Myers

    This is just a shock.

    I have spoken to him about once a month over the last year over the phone, and of course through facebook.

    He was so gracious and intelligent. He was just a genius, and his grasp on politics, not just Libertarian politics, the nature of the “game” so to speak was astounding.

    I feel like he had so much more to do.

    I am just sick.

  20. Gene Berkman

    Our loved ones live on in our memory of them, and in what they did.

    Dave Nolan devoted his life to building the libertarian movement. As we continue to build the movement, and the Libertarian Party he founded, we do so with memories of his commitment to principle and willingness to work to advance his principles.

    I will miss you, Dave.

  21. Steve LaBianca

    A sad, sad day. He fought for what he believed in, and treated his adversaries with grace. Anyone who dedicates a part of their life to living, and promoting liberty owe a great debt of gratitude to David. He touched all of our lives, as the Libertarian Party, Davids’ brainchild, for whatever its faults, has been THE greatest recruiter of liberty in modern America.

    It is highly likely that without David, his efforts and accomplishments,. none of us would be corresponding with each other.

    RIP David, I miss you, and I am sure everyone else does, too. You will NEVER be forgotten.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    I’m sure that David is resting in peace. That his last act in the LP was to propose a resolution that was reasonable, that his cooler head prevailed, is testimony to his commitment to peace.

    He will be missed.

  23. Jason Gatties

    When I read the news, I attempted to write a long post, summing up my feelings for a man I admired and I could only come up with is the following…

    David…thank you.

    My thoughts & prayers go out to his family & to all the folks he touched over the years.

  24. MP James Ogle

    The Free Parliamentary Party extends our condolences to David F. Nolan’s friends and family.
    All dozen or so of us, to the hundreds of thousands of you.
    Peace.

  25. Ted Brown

    This is very sad news. David Nolan was certainly a visionary for our cause, with the Nolan Chart and the founding of the LP all those years ago. I saw him often when he lived in Southern California and was glad he remained so active and certainly didn’t lose his ideological footing. Just before the recent election, I saw a clip of David’s debate with Sen. John McCain and the other Arizona Senate candidates. He did a great job. He also looked perfectly healthy, so this is really a shock. RIP, David, I and thousands of others will certainly miss you.

  26. Barbara Howe

    I am stunned to hear this news. David is a true inspiration to the freedom movement. Let us carry on his legacy.

  27. George Whitfield

    I was saddened to hear of David Nolan’s passing. He was an innovator and activist: hosting the meeting in his living room where the Libertarian Party was founded in December 1971 in response to Republican President Nixon’s wage and price controls and abandonment of the US dollar’s connection to gold. I recently saw his TV debate with Sen. McCain and Democrat and Green party candidates. David Nolan was clearly the most articulate and principled participant. He was truly a hero for liberty. My condolences to his family and friends.

  28. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Brief update —

    I’ve heard from several of David’s acquaintances via Facebook (including David Euchner and Bennett Kalafut, among others), and this much seems to be verifiable:

    1) This was sudden and unexpected. While David has had some health problems in recent years, this was not a “long illness” kind of thing.

    2) He left home for the pharmacy, apparently to pick up a prescription.

    3) He was found shortly later near his home, unconscious and slumped over the wheel of his vehicle, and taken to the hospital. He never regained consciousness.

    No word on memorial services, things to do in his honor, etc., but if we’re given that information for public consumption, we’ll pass it on here at IPR.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  29. Luke

    Wow, I am shocked and saddened. My condolences go out to his family and friends. Without his work I would probably not know a lot of the good people I know now. Thank you Mr.Nolan and I will try to keep the dream going for freedom in this country.

  30. Andy

    “my favorite memory was running the straw poll with him at National , ya thats right people , I lied about who was behind it because we wanted accuracy , it was awesome to have a sectret and for our poll to be dead on.”

    Yeah, I remember seeing David Nolan in the room I was staying in St. Louis with Paul and some other people counting up those straw poll votes (the poll ended up being pretty accurate too). It is a damn shame that he’s not with us anymore.

  31. Darryl W. Perry

    @43 – his birthday would be Tuesday – he had requested people donate to The Advocates for his birthday, I believe there are a good many people that still intend to donate in honor of his birthday

  32. Jeff Daiell

    He will be missed.

    There is so much more that could be said, but I will just add this: the world is a better place because of David Nolan.

    Jeff Daiell

  33. Tom Blanton

    What a bummer, at least it seems he didn’t suffer long. He also went out near the top of his game.

    I hope the LNC will see fit to pass Mr. Nolan’s proposed resolution in deference to him and his dedication to libertarianism.

    His passing is a tremendous loss to libertarians as he helped to provide some center of gravity to keep the LP grounded. Many of the leaders of the party that purports to represent libertarianism would do well to emulate David Nolan, philosophically and as an activist.

  34. Kevin Knedler

    Found out as I was boarding an airplane in New Orleans, after the LP LNC meetings.
    David was a true warrior for freedom. He will be missed. We are inspired by what he stood for and will continue this fight for freedoms.

    Kevin J. Knedler
    LNC at-large member
    Libertarian Party of Ohio Executive Committee chair

  35. Kevin Knedler

    Tom # 49.
    The “Nolan Resolution” was approved today, November 21 at the LNC meeting in New Orleans. Obviously, David was not at the meeting and we had no idea of the sad developments.
    I made the motion to support this. There was one amendment/change, but the spirit and meaning of the resolution are intact in my opinion. I am glad the LP LNC approved the “Nolan Resolution”.
    Thank you

  36. Gerhard Langguth

    Some people live long and uneventful lives. Others like David Nolan and Ron Crickenberger change the world in whatever brief moments they are among us. And a select few get miraculous second chances like Michael Badnarik. It is my belief that the Creator – God, who or whatever your religion may say it is – often calls us home early. However, as creatures of free will we are endowed with the right to reply with something like “aw shucks Daddy can’t I just play a little while longer” so long as we accept responsibility for whatever pain and suffering our failure to heed the advice may bring.

    Human history is replete with names like Jesus of Nazareth or Joan the Maid of Lorraine. Their tragic deaths are often the spark that ignited revolutions. No one living today can ascertain the truth of those or countless similar stories from the past. However, it is a well established fact that legends have at least some basis in reality.

    Faith tells me that David, Harry, Ron and the many other friends of Liberty I have known are now in a better place and time. If you believe human existence extends beyond mere biology and that there are such a things as a soul and truly inalienable rights, then it becomes possible to imagine that death is neither a beginning nor an end. In my view when people like David “pass” they are replaced with new earthly souls that pick up the banner and march on.

    So must we.

  37. Todd Andrew Barnett

    @43, thanks for the update on that. It’s much appreciated.

    As for the “memorial services, things to do in his honor, etc.,” I don’t know when the memorial service is, but right now I don’t think that’s a priority. His wife needs some time to be alone to grieve. She’s shattered, and I can’t blame her for that.

    I think everyone should send her condolence cards via snail mail, emails to her, and what not. That would be a good idea.

    I was going to do a show on Liberty Cap Talk Live, to do a 2-hour show on David Nolan’s life and his friends and family could call in and talk about what he was like openly. But, due to flack I received from Hank Xavier and Corey Moore, I dropped the idea immediately. It won’t be happening. Reason? It’s because it “comes off as opportunistic” (Corey’s words) and it’s “exploitative and self-serving” (Hank’s words).

    I suppose it was a bad idea, but then again, if that’s the case, then ANY tribute…anything done in his honor will be “coming off as opportunistic,” “exploitative,” and “self-serving.”

    It’s sad that I had to read this from two people whom I had some modicum of respect, but that’s been shattered now.

    I offer my condolences to Elizabeth Nolan and to all of David’s colleagues. My apologies if my idea comes off the way, as Hank and Corey suggested it.

  38. Daniel Wiener

    When Dave sent me an email earlier this week saying that he wouldn’t be able to attend the LNC meeting because of medical reasons, I sent back a bantering reply asking him whatever happened to “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”, and then expressed the hope that he’d soon get well. Sadly, I had no idea that this would be my last communication with him.

    But the truth is that Dave really did pledge his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor in the pursuit of his dream of a free and just society. And he accomplished what few people ever have. He helped found a movement in his living room which has since shaken oppressive institutions and affected the course of our nation and offered hope for the future.

    Certainly he affected me. I became a member of the Libertarian Party in 1972, just a few months after its creation. I’ve worked with Dave on many things over the decades, and when we both joined the Libertarian National Committee this year he often joked that we (along with Dan Karlan) constituted the M.I.T. Caucus of the LNC. I feel fortunate to have been able to call Dave a friend.

    David Nolan spent his life nurturing the Libertarian Party. He spent his fortune contributing to the Libertarian Party and its candidates. And his efforts illuminated what the Founding Fathers meant by “sacred honor”. His death hurts terribly, but he has left a legacy which assures that he will never be forgotten.

  39. Gerhard Langguth

    @54, to the best of my knowledge David was never politically correct and I can remember all the shout downs he got during various platform and rules debates. When it came to our liberties he never let popular opinion override his principles.

    Bowing to the tyranny of the majority is the same as accepting a divine ruler. This IS politics and if some famous D or R had died the President and all his/her hench persons would use the opportunity to promote themselves and their causes. Both the Communist News Network and their fascist buddies at Fox would spend the next week giving their take while “taking” in as much revenue as the market will bear.

    This political party game is a bloody – none violent – mess and those who want to see it from ground level or worse play the field had better learn the rules. Which is there are NO rules in love and war! Only Libertarians pledge to obey principles versus merely following the orders of the day.

    The greatest honor we can give David is to use his death to promote the cause of Liberty. And if he could speak, I am sure he would be the loudest voice cheering us on from microphone one!

  40. D. Frank Robinson

    November 21: David F. Nolan, November 22: John F. Kennedy. No connection, of course. Of course?

  41. Dave Walter

    Shocking and terribly sad news this morning.
    I met David in 1967 and had a warm and productive relationship with him ever since.
    Just last Friday, I was discussing the possibility of him joining the “Student Alumni Finance
    Committee” of Students For Liberty.

    There are few in this movement who have devoted more time and energy to the libertarian cause. I wish I was half the activist that he was.
    We can all redouble our efforts and not reach the
    summits that he did.

    My condolences to Elizabeth and to all who knew and loved David Nolan.

  42. JT

    I want to add my voice to the chorus of those saddened by David Nolan’s passing. He was proof that a Libertarian can be principled and yet respectful toward Libertarians who disagree. In addition to his steadfast support for the LP, the Nolan Chart has opened many peoples’ eyes to the realization that political ideology isn’t just a straight line from left to right, and that libertarianism is a coherent, distinct alternative to liberalism and conservatism. That’s a contribution to the movement that can’t be overstated, IMO.

  43. Travis Nicks

    I enjoyed knowing and working with him. His dedication to liberty was inspirational. He will be sorely missed.

  44. D. Frank Robinson

    @Robert Capozzi: After a web search including Bob Barr’s FB page, I found no evidence that Mr. Barr has noted Mr. Nolan’s death. Wayne Allen Root commented. If Mr. Barr is comatose or deceased, I send my condolences.

  45. Robert Capozzi

    dfr, well, this dialog tests my sense of propriety as well. But I can’t say I am familiar with your rule that one must express condolences within 24 hours when others have, else one must be either comatose or deceased.

    We should probably cease this exchange out of respect for Nolan and his family.

  46. Marc Montoni

    Over my many years of involvement in the Libertarian Party, I have become friends with many different Libertarians all across the state and nation. Every once in awhile, one departs.

    Yesterday, on Sunday evening, one who departed was David Nolan.

    The first time I met David was at the Libertarian Party’s national convention in Phoenix in 1985. Back then, when I was a younger man, he seemed larger than life. More recently, I became friends with him as he returned to the national LP spotlight. I am honored to have known him and called him a friend. The political party he founded has — as Tony Wall so eloquently put it — given voice to my life’s philosophy.

    Fittingly for his final years, in 2008, he returned to a leadership role in the party, seeking and winning a seat on the Libertarian National Committee. And there he remained until his death.

    There is not a person who has been involved in our organization who wasn’t touched by the life of David Nolan. He helped build our political home and devoted decades of his life to its guidance and service. Nolan’s work has influenced the lives of millions of people through the thousands of small and large successes that the Libertarian Party has had in its four decades of existence. If Libertarians hit the streets to protest a tax increase, it was Nolan’s creation that brought them together. If a Libertarian is among the nearly 1,000 people who have won election to public office, it was Nolan’s creation that helped staff the campaign team.

    Nolan died as he lived – serving the Libertarian Party and the dream that our Party represents. I agree with Starchild that it is unfortunate that he did not live to see all of the freedom he advocated during his life. However, even though success is often elusive in life, Nolan found much happiness in finding so many new friends and colleagues to work toward that vision — many of whom would never have found libertarianism had it not been for the political party he helped start.

    May you rest in peace, David Nolan. And thank you, my friend.

    — Marc Montoni, Secretary
    Libertarian Party of Virginia

  47. Hank Xavier

    David will be sorely missed. The sudden nature of his passing has been a shock to us all. I am most sad because I did not get to know him as well as I would have liked. We had been developing a friendship online and through many facebook chats and private messages, I was proud to call myself an associate and would have liked to been his friend. Alas, this is not to be, and so in lieu of that friendship, I will do whatever I can to honor his memory and contribute to the legacy he left for we the people.

    My heart and soul is with the family right now. I can only imagine the grief they must be feeling. David often spoke of his wife in terms of her strength. I hope that strength is with her in these tragic moments and she should know, that there is an entire movement of loving people that are reaching out to show her love and support and gratitude for all she and her husband did for freedom.

    To David, the greatest man not enough people knew, I wish you swift journey and easy rest in the embrace of the God of your knowing. We love you and miss you and will do so forever.

  48. Andy

    My two favorite memories of David Nolan are as follows:

    1) During the 2008 National Convention in Denver, Jim Duensing and his family organized a 9/11 Truth event called Libertarians for Justice (it was held on the first official day of the convention). Certain people in the party attempted to block it from happening. David Nolan took a stand in favor of the event taking place. I don’t know if David Nolan was a 9/11 Truther himself, but I appreciated the fact that he took a stand for free speech and freedom of assembly. When I saw David Nolan at the National Convention I went up to him and thanked him for taking a stand in favor of the 9/11 Truth event and I also thanked him for founding the Libertarian Party.

    2) When I attended the Libertarian Party of Arizona State Convention in January of 2009 I got up and gave a short impromtu speech on the importance of starting ballot access drives early. David Nolan said that he agreed with everything that I said and he wrote out a check for $25 (which I forwarded to a state LP chapter). David Nolan was the only one in the room who donated that day.

    I saw David Nolan from a distance at the Saint Louis Airport while I was waiting for my flight. I thought about going up and talking to him but then I got distracted for a few moments and by the time I looked back over where I had seen him walking he was gone. I thought to myself, “That’s OK, I’ll see him again at other events so this won’t be my last opportunity to speak to him.” Unfortunately, this obviously did not turn out to be the case.

    RIP.

  49. Robert Milnes

    I am very sorry to hear this news about Mr. Nolan.
    @6, “There will be no stopping the Republicanization of the LP now.”
    God help me, those were among my thoughts when I first heard this.
    Among, plain and simple, a man has died. A revered and accomplished man. To that degree, his life has ended, and my life has been affected.

  50. D. Frank Robinson

    @6 & 69: If you don’t like what you see in the LP, why don’t you jump in and do whatever you can. David Nolan did just everything he could think to do, have we?

  51. Gary Odom

    On behalf of the Constitution Party, I offer our sympathy to Mr. Nolan’s family and all of you in the Libertarian Party who worked with him over these many years.

    I never met him, but my good friend Gene Berkman always spoke very highly of him. Anyone with his resume qualifies as an example of Teddy R’s “Man in the Arena” for whom I have such high regard.

    Those who have never broken away from the existing order with a vision of building something new and greater than what has been can probably not understand all that this man undoubtedly went through to see his dreams fulfilled. At least those of us in the CP (and AIP) can have some appreciation of that, even though we may not have known him.

    Rest in Peace, David Nolan and thank you for your contribution to America.

  52. paulie

    Very, very sad to hear this. My condolences to Elizabeth Nolan. We met a couple of times but I don’t have contact info.

    I considered David a friend and ally in the struggle and was fortunate to know him. This is a huge loss for the party and movement.

    David was always a fighter for a more peaceful society. He went out fighting, running against the reprehensible John McCain and serving once again on the Libertarian National Committee. I think he would have wanted us to work even harder for peace and liberty, as he showed by example.

    My mind tells me this, but my heart wants to turn away from the world. I feel an emptiness and sadness in my soul.

    David lives on through what we do with his legacy. I hope we keep that in mind and do it justice.

  53. Dr. Tom Stevens

    I worked with David Nolan on the Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party from 2008 to 2010.

    I am deeply impressed by the testimonials provided here with respect to his life, his character and his unwavering commitment to libertarianism.

    Apparently, there is not a single negative word anyone wishes to share. Perhaps its that “speaking ill of the dead” taboo and the “too soon to discuss that” prohibition or perhaps there is nothing negative to be said.

    Condolences to his family!

  54. Maurice Kane

    Rest in Peace to a champion of liberty and constitutional government, and condolences to his kith and kin.

  55. Jeremy Young

    David Nolan, whom I did not know except through comment threads at IPR, was a great American and a tireless advocate for third-party politics. He will be missed.

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