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Remembering Barry Siegel (1929-2013)

Professor Emeritus Barry Siegel passed away on December 9, 2013.  Barry was hired by the UO economics department in 1961 to serve as its money and banking specialist. He retired in 1999 after establishing an impressive record of contributions to the Department, the College, the University, and general academic community. Barry’s long-time colleague, Joe Stone, offered the following highlights.

Champion of shared faculty governance. One of my first memories of Barry is of running into him as he was putting an AAUP membership brochure in my department mailbox. It took Barry about three sentences to convince me to join.  I soon learned that Barry played an important role in helping shared faculty governance work on campus. As a leader in the campus AAUP he helped to keep lines of communication between faculty and university administrators open and well travelled. Barry’s wife Jetta also played a pivotal role in the state level AAUP. Much of the best of shared governance in Oregon over several decades was due to the efforts of people like Barry and Jetta.  Such was the mutual respect and confidence among faculty and administrators in those days that it was not uncommon to have a university provost or president simply show up, take an empty seat, and be welcomed to participate in an AAUP meeting.  How times change.

Bitcoin pioneer.  The breadth of Barry’s professional interests were remarkably broad. After authoring a widely used monetary theory textbook, which was both Keynesian and monetarist in perspective, Barry’s interests turned to Austrian economics and free-market approaches to dealing with issues of the role of money in economic stability and prosperity.  Decades before the term “bitcoin” had even been conceived, Barry published a collection of papers on mechanisms for free-market money, including papers by Lawrence White and Leland Yeager.  Many of the issues bitcoins now face are addressed in this edited volume.

Lastly, my favorite memories of Barry are of his friendship and his gentle, kind and thoughtful nature.

Department Head Van Kolpin notes, “When I came to the UO in 1986, I was barely 26, had just finished my Ph.D., and my definition of a big city was a town with stop lights.  I will never forget how kind and understanding Barry was of my naiveté.  Lessons learned from his quiet and considerate mentorship prove invaluable to me to this day.”


Obituary from The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon)

[Originally published December 22, 2013]

Barry Norman Siegel, a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Oregon, passed away peacefully on December 9, 2013 in Louisville, Colorado. Barry was born in Chicago to Mandel and Mary Siegel on June 4, 1929. He served in the army from 1946-1947, which enabled him to go to college under the GI Bill. Barry believed that this was the best professional decision of his life. He attended UCLA and then the University of California at Berkeley, where he met his wife, Jetta Rackow. Barry received his Ph.D. in Economics from UC Berkeley in 1957.

In 1961, following his first faculty position at the University of Utah, Barry moved his young family to Eugene to teach at the U of O. He taught at the U for 38 years, including a stint as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts during 1969-1972. In addition to his teaching and service at the University, Barry chaired a committee of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that helped develop the Upward Bound program. He was also active in the community, serving as President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eugene and on the committee opposing the concrete cross on Skinner’s Butte.

Barry’s career provided him the opportunity to travel with his family. In 1960 he received a Smith-Mundt grant to teach Economics in Monterrey, Mexico. In 1967, he was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Although Yugoslavia was still under communism, he taught market-based economics. Following his retirement in 1999, he and Jetta moved to Colorado. Barry and Jetta used this time to see the world and enjoy their family. Barry always considered Eugene to be his home and frequently reflected on his wonderful life teaching and writing at the U of O.

Barry always spoke with great pride about his family. He is preceded in death by his parents and by his son, Daniel. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jetta; brother, Richard (Brookline, MA); son, Ronald (Minneapolis, MN; wife, Carol); daughter, Naomi Soderstrom (Melbourne, Australia; husband, Holger); daughter in law, Diane McMurry (Seattle, WA; husband, Kevin); and seven grandchildren (Eva, Max, Elana, Nina, Joel, Kelly, and Rachael).

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