Economics Professor Emeritus Dies at 92

Photo: Sherman Maisel
Sherman Maisel

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UC Berkeley professor emeritus Sherman Maisel, who co-founded the campus's Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics and served as governor of the Federal Reserve, died in San Francisco of respiratory failure Sept. 29. He was 92.

Those who knew him well remember him as a family man, an inquisitive scholar and a passionate activist who also worked tirelessly to end segregation in the Berkeley Unified School District.

"He cared so much about family and extended family," his daughter Peggy Maisel said. "When a lot of us struggle with work-life balance, he was someone who was able to do both very well. I admired that a lot."

Sherman Maisel, who received four degrees from Harvard University, was always pursuing knowledge and willing to teach, his son Lawrence Maisel said. When his father came to Berkeley to help start the center in 1948, he was one of the first people in the nation to bring real estate economics to the university level, he added.

"It was very creative because at that point in the country, there wasn't much research that had been done in that area," Peggy Maisel said.

It was for this ingenuity that President Lyndon Johnson appointed Maisel to the Federal Reserve Board in 1965. Maisel's wife, Lucy Cowdin Maisel, called her husband's move to the Board the "height of his career."

Prior to his appointment, Sherman Maisel served on the Berkeley school district's Board of Education from 1962 to 1965, while the board worked to end de facto segregation in its middle schools, according to Peggy Maisel. In 1964, voters tried and failed to recall Maisel and a fellow board member for their support of desegregation.

"In that process, the city of Berkeley really changed politically," she said. "Some voters ended up moving out of Berkeley at that time, Berkeley's politics changed - it became a much more liberal place."

Lawrence Maisel added that his father remained connected to the Berkeley community as part of an informal group of UC Berkeley professors known as the "Little Thinkers," who have met every Friday for lunch for the past 50 years. Sherman Maisel continued to attend the meetings until the week before he passed away. In addition to his academic pursuits, Peggy Maisel said her father was a man dedicated to his family, married happily for 68 years and a loving grandfather.

In accordance with Sherman Maisel's last wish to have a celebration instead of a memorial service, a family gathering will be held in New York City to commemorate his life.

Contact Sarah Mohamed at [email protected]

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