I have just been informed that UC Berkeley political science professor Nelson W. Polsby passed away last night. I'm no political scientist, but I think it would be fair to say that Polsby was among the more important and influential political scientists of his generation. I often disagreed with his conclusions, and never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but I nearly always found his work to be thoughful, provocative, and insightful. He will be missed. (I will post links to obituaries as they become available.)
UPDATE: UCLA Law Professor Daniel Lowenstein writes:
Nelson Polsby died last night. As many of you know, he was a political scientist who made his reputation at Yale in the 50s and 60s but finished his career at Berkeley. He ran the Institute of Governmental Studies there, and transformed it from a backwater into a model of an academic institution that maintains both close connection to the real world of politics and the highest standards of academic rigor.
His earliest work classified him with the pluralist school of thought, which was at its peak at the time he was at Yale. He went on to write extremely important work in many areas of American politics. For example, he was one of the leading scholars of our time on Congress and on political parties. His writing simply bubbles over with interesting ideas and insights. A lot of people with his bent of mind and in his generation became neo-conservatives. He never did and remained a fierce Democrat and (in recent years) a Bush-hater to the end. But he had no tolerance for the more cant-ish elements of the liberal left.
Finally, he was an extraordinary gracious person, with great wit and good humor. When he was at the top of his form, he was a sparkling speaker. And, as you can probably guess, he was a friend. He could not stand the reform work I did early in my career, but he was never anything but generous and good to me. The privilege of knowing such rare people is one of the things that makes life good.
UPDATE: UChicago law professor Lior Strahilevitz has posted a tribute to Polsby, "a giant of American political science, a leading academic authority on presidential elections, Congress, political party reform, and a host of other topics. . . . the greatest teacher I ever had and an extraordinarily sweet, generous, and funny man."
THIRD UPDATE: The Washington Post obituary is here.