Linda Whetstone, 1942 – 2021
Liberty has lost one of her greatest champions. Our beloved and respected Linda Whetstone, long time Atlas Network trustee and former board chair, was surrounded by her friends and admirers when she suffered cardiac arrest at breakfast following Atlas Network's Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner.
Linda was president of the Mont Pelerin Society, a trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs, and a mentor to literally thousands of classical liberal activists and thought leaders around the globe. In addition to a remarkable family, she had many interests in business, sports, research, and more. Among her many legacies is an influential volume she co-edited with Dr. Nouh El Harmouzi, Islamic Foundations of a Free Society.
Linda had been immensely helpful to Khalid Ramizy of Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (Ramizy shown receiving the Asia Liberty Award at Asia Liberty Forum 2018 in Indonesia below). She was a constant mentor and help to Khalid and his colleagues. She was also very active with Tom Palmer and Brad Lips working around the clock to get Khalid, family, and colleagues to safety earlier this year.
"No one had greater passion for elevating the voices of freedom's champions in countries that are presently unfree. It's fitting that, the night before she passed, Linda was seated at our Freedom Dinner with people she mentored from Burundi, Nigeria and Bosnia, and raised a glass with them to Tom Palmer's elegant toast to Fun, Friendship, and Freedom. She represented these three words better than anyone, and it's heartbreaking to have lost her." – Brad Lips, Atlas Network CEO
“Linda is one of the strongest influences on our movement. Her wisdom, strength of character and integrity, fortitude, and sharp intellect have guided us for years. Classical liberals the world over love and miss her and we will be guided by her wisdom for many years to come. Agent W, as we called her, was the best among us. Many thousands of people around the world are joined in grief at her loss. She was doing what she loved—helping people to realize their liberty—and she was surrounded by so many of those who love and admire her. We will remember her.” – Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Executive Vice President for International Affairs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty
"Linda Whetstone was the type of leader you could never accuse of 'mission drift.' She made the most of every trip, every meeting, and every conversation to further the causes about which she cared most. She led without ego. She was never so animated as when she was praising the work of others, particularly the activities of a new contact in whom she saw great potential and for whom she would work tirelessly to enlist the help of many others across her personal and professional networks. It is not possible to make a full accounting of all who benefited from her mentorship and friendship throughout the years and throughout the globe. We just know that, like us, today they are feeling the pain of this great loss." – Matt Warner, Atlas Network President
"It has been daunting to follow in Linda’s footsteps as the Chair of Atlas, but I had her enthusiasm and support to guide me. It seems unimaginable that her energy and wisdom will need to be drawn from our memories as we move forward. Within the last month I have danced with her, climbed a volcano with her, resolved big questions, laughed, celebrated the success of the Atlas Network Team and our many partners and been inspired by her. She was the picture of animated happiness over the two days of the Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner and I am so grateful that she was here—I just wish she were here for ten more. She was a friend and mentor to many and I am very proud to count myself amongst them." – Debbi Gibbs, Atlas Network Board Chair
We invite friends and admirers of Linda to submit their own short tributes to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will periodically update this page to include more expressions of gratitude for Linda's amazing life.
“'I applaud your aim to build on the success of the IEA in Europe, America and further afield.' So wrote the Prime Minister to Antony Fisher forty years ago. No-one did more to fulfil that aim than Linda Whetstone. A vibrant network of now 500 think tanks in 100 countries, many very far afield indeed in very challenging countries, enthusiastic teams working to high professional standards and supported by generous committed donors: no mean accomplishment for a chicken farmer and his daughter.” – Robert Boyd, Atlas Network Board Member, in an article he wrote for Institute for Economic Affairs commemorating Linda's life. (United Kingdom)
“It is very unbelievable for me that the freedom movement of the world has lost Linda Whetstone, who was a very dear and supportive friend not only for me but for everyone who works, stands with, and defends freedom and peace. Linda was a rare gem. She significantly impacted my personal and professional life and shaped my worldview as a role model. She supported thousands of Afghan youths across Afghanistan to learn the ideas of a free and prosperous society and tried so hard to lead our generation toward enlightenment. She put her soul and mind into the work. She edited and published the Islamic Foundations of a Free Society book which is the only source in Afghanistan that enables us and thousands of other friends to continue our fight for freedom based on Islamic values. She left us alone in this world, but her outstanding work and ideas will remain with us forever.” – Mohammad Khalid Ramizy, CEO, Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO, Afghanistan)
"When I had the immense honor of working with Linda, she was never without a handwritten list of names of people she was eager to discuss. The student in Cote D'Ivoire teaching himself English to participate in trainings, the brilliant female lawyers in Kenya or India, the exciting young man in Nepal...the list was never ending, and Linda's dedication to supporting every person working to advance liberty that she could never ended either. When we met at think tank trainings around the world, she was always right up front, ready to share her wisdom and encouragement with each budding freedom champion. Her energy, her passion, and her matter of fact demeanor have been a constant source of inspiration for me to keep forging ahead. Above all though, I will remember that individual care she took of each of us, and pledge to carry on her light. Rest in freedom Linda." – Cindy Cerquitella, Executive Director, America's Future (United States)
"It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Linda Whetstone. I worked closely with Linda at the Mont Pelerin Society to expand the membership to the next generation and across the globe. She cared passionately about bringing the message of, what Hayek called, true radical liberalism to every corner of the world and in particular to those whose livelihoods and even lives were threatened. She was a tireless and committed advocate for liberal ideals. She will be greatly missed, and her influence will live on through the work of some many she has influenced." – Peter J. Boettke, President of MPS, 2016-2018 (United States)
“There are many profound and high minded things to say about our dearest Linda. However, I would like to give here a concrete and very practical angle to my praises. Simply put, Linda was the very best networker and connecter I encountered in my entire career. She would say she would take care of certain follow ups or introductions and, then, she would go on and…actually do that! Now, this may sound pretty basic to some, but let me assure you that, in real life, this is a rarest of quality. It helped in most tangible manners countless members of our Freedom movement over several decades, including myself. It is sometimes a pure cliche to say about someone you recently passed away: 'You are gone, but shall not be forgotten.' In Linda’s case, I know this to be true!” – Michel Kelly-Gagnon, CEO, Montreal Economic Institute, Senior Fellow, Atlas Network (Canada)
"It’s sometimes noted that Linda’s father was Sir Antony Fisher, the founder of Atlas Network and so many other institutions in our movement. Although that is an important fact, Linda was not merely 'the daughter of the founder.' Rather she was her own, fierce and tireless advocate for human freedom, and helper to so many fellow classical liberals around the world. The 'Linda Brand' is representative of all three qualities Malcolm Gladwell cites in The Tipping Point: maven, connector, and salesman. That brand and those duties are now something she has entrusted to us." – Richard Lorenc, Chief Growth Officer, IronLight (United States)
"Dear, Linda Whetstone! You lived a life of significance, dedicated to the cause of making the world a more beautiful place for everyone of every colour. You are unforgettable; you are in my heart and in the hearts of everyone, African, European, Asian, and American alike. You were a beacon of hope, living your life as if it were a candle, spreading light and hope for a brighter and more beautiful future. You led by example and made a difference in the world. You were exceptional and unreplaceable. You set an example of sacrifice, docility, love, compassion, and leadership for the world. You were and will continue to be wonderful. I'm crying and can't say goodbye to you." – Dr. Raza Ullah, President, Alternate Solutions (Pakistan)
"The world has lost one great liberty fighter. Linda Whetstone passed away couple a of days ago and I testified that she died suddenly speaking of fighting the state apparatus. God's giving. Little is known that Linda helped publish the first edition of Friedman's book in Bosnian." – Admir Čavalić, Director, Association "Multi" (Bosnia)
"I received the news about Linda Whetstone’s death on my return home from a joyous Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner. I imagine every attendee was stunned, as I was, after having interacted with Linda for the past several days. I didn’t have any formal business with Linda while we were in Miami for Atlas meetings, but one small anecdote captures her focus. Linda and I shared a ride down the elevator over the weekend. I asked her if she was headed out to the beach to enjoy the weather and view. 'No,' she said, 'I have a meeting to do.' Ever the dedicated warrior! Linda’s life is irreplaceable. But the work remains and we continue because she would expect no less." – Michael J. Reitz, Vice President, Mackinac Center for Public Policy (United States)
"Linda has always been a source of great inspiration, friend and mentor to us with her constant energy and enthusiasm for promoting liberty. Our first engagement with her was on an individual level with our Executive Director Robin Sitoula in 2004 in Sri Lanka during a Mont Pelerin Society meeting where she inspired Robin to set up an institute in Nepal to promote the fundamental values of a free society. She has been a supporter for the cause in Nepal ever since at both individual and organizational levels. We have always been awestruck by her spirit, industriousness and professionalism. She was a guide and a guardian to many of us at Samriddhi Foundation where we all enjoyed a personal tie with her. We are all proud to have had shared happy and inspirational moments with Linda everytime we interacted with her. Her passing away is a great loss to the global movement. Just the day before she left us, we were discussing some of the initiatives we have done in Nepal, from organising colloquiums to foster an environment of Socratic discussions on ideas of freedom to localising classical liberal texts and the impact they have had in the recent times. Fundamental values of liberalism like individual freedom, skepticism of power, private property, rule of law, free markets and competition have never before been discussed as deeply and by as many people in Nepal as today. Works we did and with Linda have played a significant role in bringing this change in Nepalese society. At this moment, we are humbled by the way she lived her life, devoting every hour to the freedom movement. We thank her for showing each and everyone of us who got to know her, how to live a meaningful life. May her soul rest in peace." – Deependra Chaulagain, Director of Operations, Samriddhi Foundation (Nepal)
"On behalf of Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), I express our deepest condolences to Linda's family. We were greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Linda Whetstone. Linda was one of the earliest supporters of IDEAS and remains in our memory as someone who truly believed in the organisation. Over the years, she was a source of constant encouragement to IDEAS. Her contributions both tangible and intangible have allowed us to continue spreading the work of liberty and justice in Malaysia. Of course, Linda’s contributions are global, as evident from the outpouring of sentiment around the world. But please know that there is a very special place in our hearts for her, within Malaysia. Thank you for blessing us with her life. We wish your family the very best as you mourn her absence. The liberty and freedom movement will miss her." – Tricia Yeoh, CEO of IDEAS (Malaysia)
"This is still surreal. There’s no way I could sit next to Linda on Tuesday having lunch–soaking up her wit and wisdom–then send notes of condolence the very next day. I am thankful to have spent true quality time with Linda during the past month. Even with a global pandemic, she was able to travel the world and see friends from Mont Pelerin Society and Atlas Network. Her passing is a timely reminder of the joy we create when we make a difference in the lives of others. Long Live Linda!" – Rob Chatfield, President and CEO, Free to Choose Network (United States)
"My quiet evening in Manhattan has been rocked by the very sad news of the loss of Linda Whetstone, a lifetime freedom fighter whose last hours, fittingly, were spent advancing individual liberty and promoting those who struggle for human dignity in the toughest places. She passed away Wednesday in full command of her deep intellect and gracious charms, just hours after participating in the Atlas Network's Freedom Forum and Liberty Dinner in Miami...Linda's tireless and far-flung travels and her talent for connecting Need A with Expert B helped Atlas Network achieve so much since it began in 1981. I was fortunate enough to meet Linda in 1995, soon after joining Atlas Network. I always looked forward to seeing Linda at our events, and those of allied groups, in America and overseas. Her words of wisdom and good cheer, sense of humor, abundant warmth, and quintessentially English demeanor were qualities I cherished and very much will miss. Freedom lovers in all 24 time zones join me in saying: 'Rest in Peace, Linda Whetstone.'" – Deroy Murdock, Senior Fellow, Atlas Network (United States)
"The passing of Linda Whetstone was a heartbreaking moment for the whole free-market community. Linda was always open, waiting and accepting us all, as only a Mother can do. She cheered and celebrated every victory of her fellow think-tankers around the globe and she was always ready with words of comfort and support in any failure or at a moment of doubt. After meeting her, one could always feel trust and hope, which are crucial for any endeavor, and especially in standing for liberty. Linda radiated the mindset of a free individual—dignity, passion, action, enormous openness and genuine interest in every person she met. Meeting Linda was a life-changing event. She bettered the world not only with her deeds, but just by being a free and loving person, by invigorating others to live free. What a blessing it is for Mother to be surrounded by her spiritual kids on the very last day, to see them energized, motivated and flourishing as they wrapped up the recent 2021 Liberty Forum in Miami…taking over her life-long mission." – Elena Leontjeva, President, Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania)
"Every time I met and talked with Linda she made me want to be better a better person. And she always will! Her unwavering dedication to the cause of liberty, her unfaltering energy and support to thousands of freedom activists around the globe and especially in unfree countries will always remain a source of inspiration. Being by her side one could almost feel the pain she shared with suppressed nations but also—and above all—one could feel the hope and belief in a better future that she so generously sparked in the hearts and minds of all who surrounded her. There is no better way to celebrate Linda’s life than by sharing her amazing accomplishments. One of them is of children in Uganda learning economics from the Lithuanian Free Market Institute‘s economics textbook Economics in 31 Hours. And she had so many more aspirations…At Liberty Forum 2021 in Miami Linda spoke to me with her radiating enthusiasm about how we could make our textbook available to school youth in other African countries. I am confident that these plans will be carried on. Linda was relentless in sharing her wisdom, passion, energy, care and generosity with people she met. I feel so privileged and grateful for being of them." – Aneta Vaine, Vice President, Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania_
"Linda Whetstone has been spiritually living in Africa, her work has been eminent for many in the liberty movement here. I feel so lost as I write this, we at Action for Liberty and Economic Development-Uganda have lost our team-builder, Grandma Linda. It's so sad and heart-breaking to Africa. This indeed is a grave loss for us. She is irreplaceable. She has been a pillar of support of so many think thanks here. You're gone, but your vision and legacy succeed you. He shall be waiting to defend what you gave us. God keep her forever." – Mwesige Joram of ALED Uganda (Uganda)
"We have lost one of the greatest human beings I've ever met. Linda Whetstone was my inspiration and role model, full of intellectual depth, humility, and vigor! When I met her about 5 years ago at my first Atlas Network Liberty Forum, I was immediately impressed by her strength, determination, and uncompromising principles for individual liberty and love for humanity. And not just her inner strength, but overall strength because we just hiked up the Payaca Volcano at the MPS meeting at UFM just a few weeks ago! I'm so grateful that many of us had Linda to look up to since women in leadership roles are a minority in this field. She was a no-nonsense woman and extraordinary leader, open, generous, respected, and full of passion. I have no doubt that her father, Sir Antony Fisher, would have been so very proud of the life she chose to lead. I want to tell Linda’s family that her unwavering commitment and personal encouragement makes me want to fight even harder to make a significant and long term impact for freedom on a mass scale. I will end by saying that just before the Freedom Dinner in Miami, we were discussing some of my ideas and her advice and last words to me were, Marianna, keep going- KEEP GOING!!! For my children, for the future of freedom in the U.S. and around the world, and FOR LINDA, I will keep going and more determined than ever. Thank you Linda Whetstone for being in my life." – Marianna Davidovich, Director of External Relations, Foundation for Economic Education (United States)
"Some intellectual forces of nature are dreadful bores and terrible dinner companions. Linda Whetstone was exactly the opposite. She personified fun, and her mischievous sense of humor could bring down the house. She made us better, too. She was the brightest star at every event, and was dancing during her Mont Pelerin Society conference at Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) in Guatemala last month like she hadn’t a care in the world. That image and her immeasurable impact will live in our hearts forever. She extended us more kindness and warm hospitality than we ever deserved. She invited and delighted in thoughtful conversations and shared her considerable opinions freely, which we enjoyed endlessly. Her intrepid and accomplished father—Sir Antony Fisher—served as the Johnny Appleseed of free-market think tanks, and his generosity ultimately helped to found The Buckeye Institute in 1989 through his efforts alongside and through Atlas Network. We can never repay that debt. We are grateful from head to toe for the courageous and engaging spirit Linda and her father possessed. Requiescat in pace, our dear spunky and relentless friend. It was the honor of a lifetime knowing you and counting you among our most enthusiastic and encouraging allies, personally and professionally. You inspired us, set our bar extraordinarily high, demanded we exceed it, and celebrated our growth and success as though you were our proudest relative—and we loved you so. A few years ago, we were blown away when you advocated for The Buckeye Institute as a contender for the prestigious Templeton Prize. We are also infinitely thankful to have spent the past few days with you in Miami and desperately hope you knew and felt how many of us there deeply adored, admired, and appreciated you. Our world will never be the same, we will miss you desperately, and pledge to keep our hats permanently tipped to you." – Robert & Rebekah Alt of The Buckeye Institute (United States)
"Just as it is said, 'You can not know the impact of your actions unless you do them,' my long walk to becoming a liberty operative was made possible by the generous support of Linda Whetstone—often channeled through the Africa Liberty Camps and other freedom activities organized by Action for Liberty and Economic Development. Through your generous and kind support, we have seen many freedom champions rise in Uganda to spur their societies to glory. May the Almighty accord you Rest in Eternal peace Linda Whetstone." – Arthur Odong, Uganda
"I didn’t have the privilege of a close relationship with Linda, but I enjoyed the discussions we had and I’ll always treasure one interaction I had with her after Freedom Dinner a few years back. I was next to her on the bus back to the hotel, and she asked how things were going with the work my organization was doing to fight corporate welfare. Talking about all the terrible deals and policies we were opposing got me hot under the collar (as it does) and I had to stop myself and apologize for getting a bit worked up. Linda’s response was one I’ll always treasure: 'Don’t ever apologize for your passion. What they’re doing IS wrong, we SHOULD be getting angry and you’re RIGHT to be trying to do something about it. Some things are just that simple.' I cherish that reminder from Linda that regardless of the complexities we may be dealing with on a day-to-day basis, it really is 'just that simple'—what they’re doing is wrong, and we’re right to be fighting back against it. There were many things that made her special, but that moral clarity is one that will stick with me forever." – John C. Mozena, President, Center for Economic Accountability (United States)