BOULDER, Colo. -
A Polish immigrant who was a renowned professor of political science at the University of Colorado, a defense and foreign policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, a World War II veteran who fought against and was captured by the Nazis, died at his Boulder home Thursday at the age of 90.
Edward J. Rozek dedicated his life to teaching, so that future generations could avoid the conflicts and atrocities surrounded by him growing up, said his wife, Elizabeth Rozek.
Born in Poland in 1918, Edward Rozek fled his homeland after Adolf Hitler's army swept through Europe.
He escaped via Hungary, Yugoslavia and Italy to France, where he joined the First Polish Armored Brigade that took part in the defense of Paris.
As a young soldier, Edward Rozek was captured by the Nazis, who held him and other POWs in a slave-labor camp.
"Rats used to run over him at night," Elizabeth Rozek said. "He used to say that he didn't like the accommodations, so he escaped."
Along with another prisoner, Edward Rozek made his way to Budapest, Hungary. After narrowly escaping from a German SS officer and falsifying papers, he hiked his way to England. There, he became the commander of a reconnaissance platoon in the First Polish Armored Division and went back to war.
He fought from Normandy to northern Germany, and was wounded three times, his wife said.
In 1949, Edward Rozek left Europe for America with $50 in his pocket and a suitcase filled with books.
"He decided that the only way to stop war ... and to break this cycle, is to teach," his wife said.
Working his way on a dairy farm and a gas station, Edward Rozek attended Harvard University, where he earned his doctorate in philosophy.
"That's a testament not only to his intelligence, but to his perseverance," Elizabeth Rozek said.
In 1956, he became a professor of comparative governments at CU.
During his career as an educator, Edward Rozek was the director of the Central and East European Studies Program for 25 years and deputy editor of the Journal of Central and East European Affairs.
He founded the Institute for the Study of Economic and Political Freedom and the Center for Science and Technology. He retired from CU in 1999 after 43 years at the university.
He received the National Foundation Book Award for authoring the book, "Allied Wartime Diplomacy."
During the 1980 presidential campaign, Edward Rozek was a member of Reagan's Advisory Council on Defense and Foreign Policy -- though he never entered public office himself.
"He said, 'I'd have to give up teaching,' and he didn't want to do that," his wife said.
The couple met in 1974, when Elizabeth Rozek applied for a position as a secretary at the university.
In 2003, then-U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., read a tribute to Edward Rozek into the Congressional Record.
"As the famous philosopher Sidney Hook said of Dr. Rozek in the dedication to his book, 'Academic Freedom and Academic Anarchy,' Ed is truly an, 'embattled fighter for free men, free society, and a free university against fascism, communism and totalitarian liberalism,'" the entry states. "May God bless Dr. Edward Rozek and his epic legacy of service to free people everywhere."
Edward Rozek is survived by his wife; two sons, Christopher and Jonathan; and four grandchildren, Alexander, Philip, Thomas and Christina. Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.