All Commentary
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bob Helmholdt—Trooper for Liberty!

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is blessed with many close friends and faithful supporters around the U.S. and abroad. Some of them go back decades with us and are among our most cherished partners. One of them I want you to know is an orthodontist from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—Dr. Robert D. Helmholdt.

Plenty of people shy away from the docs who place “braces” on teeth.  But I’d gladly value and enjoy the treatment just to be in Bob’s presence.  He’s that friendly and engaging!

Maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I’m sure I am not understating the sterling, avuncular personality of this humble trooper for liberty.  Both because of the teeth he’s worked on and the minds he has opened, many people in the Ft Lauderdale area are smiling today.

Bob grew up in abject poverty, but as he puts it,“It didn't take me long to realize that there was an economic system in place that allowed me to rise to whatever level my study, hard work, responsibility, frugality, and God-given talents would allow.  And, of course, the most important ingredient in that economic system was freedom!”

I first heard Bob Helmholdt’s name decades ago, from my late mentor and long-time Grove City College economist (and former FEE president), Dr. Hans F. Sennholz. Hans and his wife Mary, who turns 100 in November 2013, were close friends of Bob and Margie Helmholdt. Hans often spoke to audiences in Florida that Bob had organized, sponsored or arranged to put him in front of. Those Sennholz speeches were just one of endless ways in which Bob has acquainted people with the ideas of free markets, private property, and personal responsibility over the years. He has distributed literature (much of it from FEE) by the boatloads.

Bob’s philanthropic work as a board member and President of the Lou Church Educational Foundation has benefited FEE hugely. Grants from the Foundation’s board have supported hundreds of scholarships for high school and college students to attend FEE seminars. Early this year, a generous additional gift made possible an all-day Saturday FEE seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, attended by 65 parents and students.

Why does Bob Helmholdt support FEE? In his own words, “Because those before me had helped preserve that system of freedom to my advantage, it therefore has become incumbent upon me to help preserve and promote that same free market economic system, so that those of the same ilk that came after me, have the same opportunity to become as unequal as I've had the opportunity to become. FEE has become very important to me as a vehicle to enhance my deep beliefs in freedom, and help carry out my mission to have freedom be available to future generations. FEE is among the longest lasting and most prestigious entities promoting liberty, with a legacy and heritage that is unequaled. It promotes freedom as one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.”

Bob is a recognized community leader in Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County, having held the position of president of many local organizations:   Chamber of Commerce,  Rotary Club, Dental Association, Executive’s Association, Broward Citizen’s Committee, Wilton Manors Business Association, and the Tower Forum.   He enjoys tennis, skiing and cycling with his wife Margie, daughter Maggie Joy and son Ryan.

We salute you, Bob Helmholdt! Thank so much for your many years of support for FEE and liberty and for your decades of fruitful service to so many good causes!

  • Lawrence W. Reed is FEE's President Emeritus, having previously served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is also FEE's Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty. His Facebook page is here and his personal website is