Yale University

In Memoriam

Gary Saxonhouse

Gary Saxonhouse
1964 graduation

Gary Saxonhouse was remembered at a Memorial Service in Battell Chapel on June 5, 2009 during our 45th reunion. Below are:

Memorial Service reading

by Jethro Lieberman, '64

I met Gary our freshman year, and last saw him in the spring of 2003. The Gary I first met was quiet and modest, and the Gary I last saw was no different, despite his long, distinguished career.

Gary spent most of his professional life as professor of economics at the University of Michigan, after taking his M.A. and Ph.D. at Yale. Along the way he taught at Brown, Harvard, and Princeton, and garnered many honors, among others, a Guggenheim Fellowship, visits at eminent think tanks, and memberships on dozens of academic committees and boards.

Gary was an expert on Japan and the Japanese economy and a policy advisor and consultant to the U.S. government, and often testified before Congress. He wrote or edited 7 books and 120 professional articles.

But no list of accomplishments can sum up or characterize our friend. One story must suffice. When we last met, we got to deploring the errant ways of the younger generation. Gary reminisced about the frivolous son, as I reconstruct it, of some potentate from far abroad, who had landed in one of his courses. This young man had failed to write the requisite paper, and so Gary failed him. Many years later, Gary learned, when a University official phoned him, that without the credit in Gary's course, the former student had failed to graduate. That became a problem when he discovered that a Michigan B.A. would be necessary to apply to American business schools. A suggestion, perhaps a strong one, was conveyed to Gary by the university administrator who phoned — with apologies here to Brother Duderstadt if I have misstated the details — that a large sum of money might be settled upon alma mater if only Gary could see a way to reverse that failing grade and so permit the degree to be awarded. Gary's story was longer than this, and delivered with a look of incredulity and mordant chuckles. "Why would I do that?" Gary wondered. "He didn't do the work." The failing grade stood, and standards were maintained.

Gary died on November 30, 2006, in Seattle, from the effects of a very risky stem-cell transplant, undertaken to reverse a virulent leukemia with which he was suddenly afflicted the previous spring. He left Arlene, his wife of 42 years, whom he dated throughout our years at Yale, three children, and four grandchildren, two of whom he did not live to meet. He also left lots of projects, some of which were declared and others, no doubt, which were in his mind but which we will never know.

His was a good but unfinished life, and we will greatly miss him.


Obituary provided by Gary's family ...

Gary R. Saxonhouse died November 30, 2006 in Seattle, WA, where he was being treated for leukemia. He was 63. Born in New York City in 1943, he attended Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1964 and his PhD in Economics in 1971. He taught Economics at the University of Michigan beginning in 1970. His research focused on the Japanese economy, international trade, economic history, and economic development.

Among his many significant honors and awards, Professor Saxonhouse held fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies (2002), a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2000, 1995-96, 1984-85), a Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center (2003), and a Distinguished Lecturer at the Northeast Asia Council of the Association of Asian Studies.

Professor Saxonhouse was a member of the senior staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and a consultant for the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce, and the World Bank. He also testified on numerous occasions before Congressional committees and served on advisory panels to the U.S. Congress on the civilian uses of space, industrial competitiveness, and the American economy.

A large circle of friends, colleagues, and students will miss his presence greatly.

Above all, he was a dedicated father and husband, who delighted in the time he spent with his family, both in Ann Arbor and in the many other places in which they lived and traveled. He is survived by his wife, Arlene, to whom he was married for 42 years, his children, Lilly, Noam, and Elena, his son-in-law Christopher Krenn, his daughter-in-law Lisa Nichols, and his grandchildren, Hannah and Joseph Krenn.

Arlene may be reached at awsaxon@umich.edu.