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Elmus Wicker (1926 – 2020)

Elmus Wicker, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Indiana University died Saturday April 18, 2020. Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana September 13, 1926, he was the son of Elmus and Georgia Wicker.

After graduating from Louisiana State University with a BA degree, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

When discharged, he enrolled as a graduate student in economics at LSU obtaining his MA degree in 1948. From LSU he went to Queens College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he studied with Sir John Hicks, Nobel Laureate in economics and received the BPhil degree in economics in 1951. When he returned to the U.S., he completed work for the PhD of economics at Duke University. Before leaving for Oxford in fall of 1948, Wicker married Carolyn Braswell Winling.

Wicker joined the Economics department at Indiana University in 1955. His entire academic life was spent at Indiana University. In the mid 70’s he served a stent as Chairman of the Economics Department.

He authored 6 books and numerous articles in lead economic journals and continued his research up until the time of his death. His books included: Federal Reserve Monetary Policy 1917-1933, New York: Random House, 1966; The Principles of Monetary Economics (with James M. Boughton), Homewood, Illinois: Irwin, 1975; Recent Developments in Economics, Editor, Lilly Conference on Economics, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Printing Plant, 1978.; Banking Panics of the Great Depression, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.; Banking Panics of the Gilded Age: Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000.; The Great Debate on Banking Reform: Nelson Aldrich and the Origins of the Fed. Ohio State University Press, 2005.

His major scholarly achievements included a history of the Federal Reserve System and the history of U.S. banking panics since the Civil War.

He received two awards for distinguished teaching, the Standard Oil Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, 1967 and Danforth Foundation Teaching Associateship 1969-1974. In his early years at IU he worked diligently with Warner Chapman and Walter Konetzka to create an honors program for superior students in the College of Arts and Science. His high academic standards were also reflected in continued interest in Phi Beta Kappa, serving as President of its local chapter.

He was especially committed to executive education having taught at the Stonier Graduate School of Banking for 15 years. At IU he taught in both the Executive Development program and the IU Graduate School of Savings and Loan. His banking and savings and loan students number more than two thousand and occupy positions of leadership in banks throughout the United States.

He also took a special interest in faculty governance having served on the faculty council on three separate occasions. He was proud of his contribution to the establishment of the Wells Scholars Program and his efforts to speak out against grade inflation. Wicker retired in 1992 after 37 years of teaching.

In 2012 the Department of Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences announced the Elmus R. Wicker Professorship in Economics established through the endowed gift from a former student, E. Scott Thatcher of Kokomo.

In 2014 Wicker was honored at an October Conference Financial Crises Past and Present: Celebrating the Research Contributions of Elmus R. Wicker.

In retirement, Wicker continued his writing and research, travelled extensively, and spent time in his garden and with family.

Wicker is survived by his children Vanessa Wicker Burkhart (Richard) and Roger Wicker (Lisa); six grandchildren Louise Burkhart Whitaker (Jon) Andrew Burkhart, Anna Burkhart, Rachel Wicker Miller (Newman) Jordan Wicker and Meghan Wicker Garner (Patrick) and four great grandsons Carter Whitaker, Henry Whitaker, Porter Miller and Oliver Miller. He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Carolyn.