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Emeritus faculty member Frank Gery dies

By David Gonnerman '90
January 13, 2012

Professor Emeritus of Economics Frank Gery died at age 83 on January 11 at his home in Northfield. St. Olaf hired Gery as chair of what was then the Department of Economics and Business Administration in 1962. He retired from a greatly changed Department of Economics 35 years later.

Gery is perhaps best remembered for strengthening the economics major at St. Olaf by dropping the department title's business reference and enhancing the curriculum with required courses in economic theory. "The number of economic majors dropped immediately, an outcome that Frank himself referred to as good news in light of the department’s desire for an improved reputation," recalls Professor of Economics Steve Soderlind, who joined the department in the late 1970s.

Gery also strove to improve the faculty so that by 1980 seven of the department's 11 faculty members held doctorates — compared to four faculty members with no doctorates just two decades before.

Gery's interest in economic research about women and minorities was evident in his 1970 Opening Convocation address, "Disenchantment with Economic Values," during which he referred to wage discrimination and "social and economic deprivation and the uneven distribution of medical care." He also challenged his audience: "Don't tell me about the bad things you are willing to give up. Tell me about the restrictions on your own freedom you are willing to take, tell me about the higher taxes you are willing to pay, tell me about the inconveniences you are willing to bear, then your talk about reordering priorities will be more convincing."

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 21, at 11 a.m. at First United Church of Christ in Northfield.

Read Gery's full obituary, plus a write-up in the Star Tribune.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or