Hal Rothman: His students are finishing the projects he was working on when he died at age 48

Historians in the News

The last time Mike Childers talked to him, Hal Rothman was a month away from death.

Wheelchair-bound, Rothman needed a computer to speak for him. Lou Gehrig’s disease had robbed him of his voice and his ability to walk.

But illness couldn’t take away the ego or the ardor of the man whom colleagues called a force of nature.

“The legend still lives,” Rothman told Childers during their final conversation.

The UNLV professor was referring to the fact that even after death, books would still be published in his name.

With Childers’ and other students’ help, Rothman is still producing from the grave.

In life, Rothman was a husband, a father of two, an environmental historian, a scholar, a teacher, a newspaper columnist, an expert on Las Vegas and myriad other topics.

And somehow, in this whirlwind existence, Rothman found time to mentor and befriend a large flock of graduate students.

In death, he gave them one last gift: the chance to advance their young careers by helping wrap up five research projects he left behind when he died in February 2007 at age 48 — historical studies of Yosemite National Park, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Pipe Springs National Monument, the town of St. Thomas, Nev., and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. All are set to be completed by 2010.
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