Remembering Leon F. Bouvier (1922-2011)

By Poston, Goldstein, Macisco, Powers, Weller
Volume 22, Number 1 (Fall 2011)
Issue theme: "America transformed"

Leon F. Bouvier, Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University, died at age 88, on January 26, 2011, of heart failure in Norfolk, Virginia. He was predeceased by his wife Terry. Lee was born on February 24, 1922, to French Canadians, Stanislav and Rose Donais Bouvier, grew up in Moosup, Connecticut, and attended Jesuit French immersion schools. At age 16, he left school to begin a more than 20-year career leading jazz bands along the East Coast and Southern Gulf areas as Lee Francis. He played the trumpet in jazz clubs and bars and often opened for Andy Griffith, before the days of Griffith’s television show when he was still performing stand-up comedy. Many of his colleagues fondly remember Lee’s trumpet performances, often with Joe Stycos on the piano, at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America. During his musical career, Lee married Terry, with whom he had four children.

A sharp change of direction occurred for Lee in 1956, when he enrolled at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama; he graduated from there in 1961 with a B.S. in history and sociology cum laude. He then began graduate school at Brown University and completed his M.A. degree in sociology and demography in 1964. While pursuing his Ph.D. at Brown, he taught sociology at Siena College, New York; the University of Scranton; and the University of Rhode Island. In 1971, he received his Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Brown University where he studied under Professor Sidney Goldstein.

After finishing his Ph.D. at Brown, Lee continued his teaching career at the University of Rhode Island, ending up spending a full ten years at URI from 1965 to 1975.

Lee taught sociology in several places, including Georgetown University, before assuming positions between 1981–87 as director of research and vice president of the Population Reference Bureau (Washington, D.C.); as demographic advisor to the Select Committee on Population, U.S. House of Representatives; and as demographic advisor to the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy.

He later served as adjunct professor at the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane, and, then, for more than a decade, was on the faculty of Old Dominion University, teaching classes as recently as two months before his death.

Throughout his life he published 18 books and more than 60 articles, most on demographic topics. Among his books were Socioreligious Factors in Fertility Decline (1975); Population: Demography and Policy (1981) with Robert Weller; The Population and Labor Force of New York (1988) with Vernon Briggs; Peaceful Invasions (1992); Fifty Million Californians? (1991); Florida in the Twenty-first Century: The Challenge of Population Growth (1992); Thirty Million Texans? (1993) with Dudley Poston; How Many Americans? Population, Immigration and the Environment (1994) with Lindsay Grant; and World Population: Challenges for the Twenty-first Century (1999) with Jane Bertrand. His last book, Population and Society, coauthored with Dudley Poston, was completed in the late Spring of 2010, only several months before his death.

Lee’s example of peace, love, gratitude, and positive enthusiasm for fully living life is left to his students, demography colleagues, friends, and his children, Tom Bouvier of Warwick, R.I., Lynne Graham of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Linda Bouvier of South Kingston, R.I., and Ken Bouvier of South Kingston, R.I.; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. ■

About the author

Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Texas A&M University
Sidney Goldstein, Brown University
John J. Macisco, Fordham University
Mary G. Powers, Fordham University
Robert H. Weller, National Institutes of Health