Svetozar “Steve” Pejovich, 89, passed away peacefully on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, with his family by his side. He is survived by his loving wife, Susan; his four children, Alexandra, Brenda, Philip and Mira; and nine grandchildren.
Born in March 1931 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to Mitar and Zorka Pejovich, Steve grew up the son of a teacher and a member of the Ministry of Finance. By 1941, Yugoslavia found itself in the midst of the European conflict that led to World War II. Life was marked by strict rules and heavy consequences for rule breakers. As Yugoslavia transitioned from Nazi control to Tito’s Communist regime, life hardly improved. By the end of the war, at age 14, Steve had survived conditions barely fathomable today.
Steve’s father, Mitar, spent four years in a POW camp before being liberated by the Americans in 1945, at which point Mitar went straight to the United States. Legally and financially, Steve and his mother were not
able to join him until 1957, marking a 17-year separation between father and son.
Life under both fascism and communism demonstrated to Steve the necessity of the pursuit of liberty, and that government should be beholden to citizens and not vice versa. This became the foundation of his academic pursuits. Married and working part time, Steve received his Ph.D. in economics at Georgetown University. From there, his family and career blossomed. Upon welcoming three children, Steve held the position of professor at St. Mary’s College, Texas A&M, and Ohio University. From 1975-1981, he served a fulfilling career as department head, dean and acting president of the University of Dallas, an institution held in high regard for its academic rigor, dedicated students and independent thinking. Steve was then lured back to Aggieland, where he spent the remaining 20 years of his career. Those years were also spent founding and directing the Texas A&M Center for Free Enterprise, marrying his wife Susan, and adopting his fourth child, Mira, from his homeland.
As the new millennium dawned, Steve became professor emeritus. By the time Steve retired in 2001, he was deemed an intellectual global giant in the field of property rights. He had collaborated with the world’s most famous foundations and institutes, had 21 entries in the Library of Congress, had received many awards, and had published over 17 books and countless scholarly articles.
But perhaps his scholarly success is best measured by the vast number of students who continued, up to his last days, to keep in touch, share their stories and seek his counsel.
While Steve’s work will continue to enrich the lives of generations to come, we know this man best as our dear “Tata”: a humble, honest, happy, moral and humorous man who told bedtime stories of King Marko, challenged us and made us laugh. He had a sense of optimism that was infectious. He taught us to think critically, be independent, accept personal responsibility, love one another and never forget our heritage. If you were to ask this accomplished man about his greatest achievements, he would grin and his blue eyes would sparkle as he pointed to the generations of family surrounding him: “The freedom they have.” The Liberty Fund Intellectual Portrait Series featured Steve in a video, “A Conversation with Steve Pejovich,” taped at the University of Dallas.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following organizations:
The Dr. Steven Pejovich Scholarship in Economics at the University of Dallas. Established by UD Trustee Gregory Hoelscher, Ph.D., BA ’77, and his wife, Robin Sherwood, this scholarship benefits a student majoring in economics, a field in which Dr. Pejovich’s legacy will always be remembered.
Professor Svetozar Pejovich Future Leaders Award Scholarship, Texas A&M University
Edwin J. Feulner Institute, Heritage Foundation; to make a gift directly to the institute, please mail a check to the following address with "In memory of Dr. Steven Pejovich" in the memo: The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE,
Washington, DC 20002
Svetozar Pejovich Foundation, University of Donja Gorica, Montenegro (via Milica Vukotic: firstname.lastname@example.org)
To view the memorial Mass on Sat., March 20, at 12:05 p.m. via livestream, click here.