Frank Rowe, 63, Dies; Opposed Loyalty Oath

Frank Rowe, a World War II combat veteran who was one of nine faculty members fired by San Francisco State College in 1950 for refusing to sign the California loyalty oath, has died of a heart attack.

Rowe, who won three major awards for his book “The Enemy Among Us,” an account of those early Cold War days, was 63. He died Sunday in Walnut Creek.

He was a first-year art teacher who, with eight colleagues and a secretary, was fired at San Francisco after saying that his conscience would not permit him to sign California’s Levering Oath, named for its author, Assemblyman Harold K. Levering.

No one ever charged that the group was subversive. Refusal to sign the oath was all that was required for dismissal.


Rowe was barred from teaching in the state from 1950 until 1967, when the state Supreme Court struck down the oath.

“The Enemy Among Us” is a history of the fight over the oath during the McCarthy era. It was published in 1980, with drawings by the author, and won the California Federation of Teachers Civil Liberties Union Award, the United Professors of California Academic Freedom Award and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the book category.

In 1979, Rowe and six other former state employees were awarded $25,000 each for the loss of their jobs.