Howard F. Didsbury, Jr.
Professor and Futurist
Kean University mourns the loss of Dr. Howard F. Didsbury, Jr., 87, professor emeritus of history at Kean, and a longtime resident of Washington, D.C., who died after a long illness on March 17, at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, Didsbury received his B.A. from Yale in 1947, his M.A. from Harvard in 1951 and his Ph.D. from The American University in 1959. While working on his doctorate degree, he served as the assistant educational officer and executive assistant to the Cultural Attaché of Pakistan from 1953 to 1956. Then, in 1956, Didsbury joined the teaching staff at the Longfellow School for Boys in Bethesda, Ma. He became assistant headmaster at the Maret School in Washington, D.C. in 1960.
The following year, he arrived at Kean, where he became especially interested in the impact of scientific and technological innovations on society and culture. He was founder and director of The Program for the Study of the Future. Didsbury spoke nationally and internationally as a lecturer on the future. A witty, engaging conversationalist and raconteur, he offered futurist courses and seminars for educators, members of the public and the private sector. A hallmark of Didsbury’s effectiveness as a teacher was that, after two decades of retirement, he still remained in contact with countless former students.
In the early 1990’s, he wrote and produced 26 half hour programs entitled Visions, Nightmares and Forecasts for the Cable Television Network of New Jersey. The show dealt with humanity’s attempt to understand and influence the future from ancient times to the computer age. For over a quarter of a century, Didsbury was a member of the World Future Society and served as its director of the Special Studies Division and general editor of ten volumes for their annual conferences. The last volume, titled 21st Century Opportunities and Challenges: Age of Destruction or Age of Transformation?, was published in 2003. Didsbury retired with distinction in 1992.
Didsbury was predeceased by his partner of 50 years, James J. Crider, in 2001.
A funeral mass will held on Thursday, April 12, at 11 a.m. at St. John Neumann Church, 11900 Lawyers Road, Reston, Va. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Whitman-Walker Clinic of Washington, D.C.