Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Paul Samuelson, of Belmont, Mass., and Longboat Key, died Dec. 13. He was 94. Samuelson was the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1970. According to a statement prepared by MIT, Samuelson’s mathematical analysis provided the foundation on which modern economics is built.
Born May 15, 1915, in Gary, Ind., Samuelson earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
He became an assistant professor at MIT in 1940. At that time, the MIT Department of Economics did not train graduate students. Samuelson helped to transform the program into a world-class research institution.
He was named associate professor in 1944, full professor in 1947, and, in 1966, he was named Institute Professor, MIT’s highest faculty honor.
Samuelson wrote the best-selling economics textbook in history, “Economics: An Introductory Analysis,” in 1948, which has since sold more than 4 million copies and has been translated into 60 languages.
Samuelson also served as an economic adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1991, MIT’s Department of Economics established the Samuelson Chair of Economics.
Samuelson spent winters on Longboat Key and, in 1995, began playing tennis at what is now Cedars Tennis & Fitness Club with his friend, former Harvard Business School Professor Jesse Markham, who died in June. In a May interview, Samuelson told Molly McCartney, who edits the Cedars newsletter, that he also got his Portuguese water dog, Deixa, in 1995. He often brought Deixa to the tennis courts with him. In the newsletter article, Samuelson joked that the Obama family wanted Deixa for its dog, but he refused to give her up.
Samuelson is survived by his wife of 28 years, Risha; daughters, Jane Samuelson Raybould, of London, and Marnie Crawford Samuelson, of Brookline, Mass.; sons, William Samuelson, of Belmont, Robert Samuelson, of Boston, John Samuelson, of Sherborn, Mass., and Paul Samuelson, of Newton, Mass.; step-daughter, Susan Miller, of Lexington, Mass.; and 15 grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be private. A public memorial service will be held at MIT at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, 208 S. Great Road, Lincoln, Mass., 01793.
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