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Lee A. Lillard III, 1943-2001

Obituary for Lee A. Lillard III, 1943-2000

Lee A. Lillard III, director of the U-M Retirement Research Center, senior research scientist at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) and professor of economics, died Dec. 2, 2000 at his home in Ann Arbor after a heart attack. He was 57.

An applied econometrician and labor economist who worked jointly with a long and diverse list of co-authors, Lillard made important contributions to the study of life-cycle earnings, marriage, fertility, divorce, mortality, intergenerational mobility and a wide variety of other issues of general interest.

While at the U-M, he also served as a member of the steering committee of the U-M Health and Retirement Study, directed by economist Robert J. Willis. "Lee was my friend, collaborator and colleague for more than 25 years," Willis said. "Throughout his career, he made significant and immediate contributions to his profession with his keen intellect and intense commitment to doing the best possible social science research. His leadership of the Michigan Retirement Research Center reflected his commitment to giving public policy a firm basis in social science."

Before joining the U-M in 1998, Lillard spent 20 years with RAND in Santa Monica, Calif., where he held a variety of positions. "As the founding director of RAND's Center for the Study of Aging, he established one of the leading research programs on aging in the world," said James P. Smith, a friend and RAND colleague.

While at RAND, he received a National Institute on Aging MERIT Award, the most prestigious award given by the National Institutes of Health.

"Lee was well known in the fields of economics and demography as an incredibly energetic researcher who was always eager to expand into new fields," said David Lam, professor of economics and director of the Population Studies Center at ISR. "He was also a great collaborator who was committed to interdisciplinary research. We were very fortunate to have attracted him to the University of Michigan, and we will greatly miss his enthusiastic personality and his exceptional research abilities."

Born Nov. 12, 1943, in Arlington, Texas, Lillard received a B.S. in mathematics in 1966 from the University of Texas at Arlington, an M.A. in economics in 1968 from Southern Methodist University (SMU), and an M.S. in 1970 and a joint Ph.D. in 1972 in economics and statistics from North Carolina State University. Before joining RAND in 1978, he served as a research associate and project director at the National Bureau of Economic Research. During his career, he also held visiting positions at the City University of New York; the University of California, Santa Clara; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; the University of California, Los Angeles; California Institute of Technology; and the University of Southern California.

"Lee was painstakingly careful with data," said Finis Welch, distinguished professor of economics at Texas A & M University, a friend and colleague who was LillardÕs teacher and mentor at SMU. "He was also an extraordinarily competent analyst and the most energetic researcher I have ever known. I have seen many hard workers. Most burn out after a few years. None surpassed Lee in dedication and effort."

Lillard is survived by his daughter, Jennifer, of Los Angeles, Calif.; his father, Lee A. Lillard II, of Granbury, Texas; and his grandmother, Lucille Lillard of Arlington, Texas. He was preceded in death by his mother, Harriet Jean Lillard. Burial will be in Arlington, with a memorial service planned for January in Ann Arbor.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, National Office, 1701 North Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311.