James M. Buchanan, one of the many outstanding professors I enjoyed as a graduate student at George Mason University, and certainly the most recognized professionally, has died at age 93. Don Boudreaux writes a beautiful appreciation of Professor Buchanan and the insight he brought to the world as a professional economist.
On a more personal note, I once presented a paper with Dr. Buchanan present. He eschewed things like regression analysis and remarked to me afterwards that I simply proved water flowed downhill. I realized later that he was correct.
I was privileged to attend dinner with Dr. Buchanan and about ten or fifteen other economists. We had been talking while the restaurant put together tables so there was enough room at the table to seat our large crowd. Once the tables were in place and enough chairs around it to seat us all, we filtered in and took our places around the table. Dr. Buchanan was behind me as we both slid sideways along the backside of the table to empty seats. After sitting down I looked at Dr. Buchanan and saw that his chair was significantly shorter than mine and that as a consequence I was looking down on him. I told him that, especially as a graduate student, I felt rather uncomfortable looking down on him at the table and asked if he would switch seats. He shook his head and said no, that it was all right with him. It was a testament to his unpretentiousness.
The last time I saw Dr. Buchanan was when he gave a talk at Hillsdale College in 2004 [?]. He was a gracious man and I benefited greatly from the classes I took from him as a professor, and enjoyed immensely the times I was able to converse with him outside of a classroom.