Walter E. Williams loved teaching. Unlike too many other teachers today, he made it a point never to impose his opinions on his students.

Those who read Walter Williams’ syndicated newspaper columns know that he expressed his opinions boldly and unequivocally there. But not in the classroom.

Walter, a professor of economics at George Mason University for 40 years, once said he hoped that, on the day he died, he would have taught a class that day. And that is just the way it was when he died Wednesday, Dec. 2.

He was my best friend for half a century. There was no one I trusted more or whose integrity I respected more.

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Since he was younger than me, I chose him to be my literary executor, to take control of my books after I was gone. But his death at age 84 is a reminder that no one really has anything to say about such things.

As an economist, Walter Williams never got the credit he deserved. His book “Race & Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?” is a must-read introduction to the subject. Amazon has it ranked fifth in sales among civil rights books, nine years after it was published.

Another book of his, on the effects of economics under the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, was titled “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism.” He went to South Africa to study the situation directly. Many of the things he brought out have implications for racial discrimination in other places around the world.

I have had many occasions to cite Walter Williams’ research in my own books. Most of what others say about higher prices in low-income neighborhoods today has not yet caught up to what Walter said in his doctoral dissertation decades ago.

Despite his opposition to the welfare state as something doing more harm than good, Walter was privately very generous with both his money and his time in helping others.

He figured he had a right to do whatever he wanted to with his own money, but that politicians had no right to take his money to give away, in order to get votes.