E&M Emeritus Maurice Branch Passes Away

Memorial service scheduled for May 10 in Chelsea

February 26, 2014

Maurice BranchEconomics and management professor emeritus Maurice Branch passed away Sunday, February 23, in Chelsea, Michigan, aged 92. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Helen; his four children, Mark, ’73, Carol, Nathan, ’79, and Melissa; along with nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Larry Steinhauer, professor emeritus of economics and management, stated that Branch “was a liberal arts teacher in the sense that he understood economics as a human science and he brought out the humanity in it.

“He taught technical classes but also developed classes like political economics, so that he could talk about economics in a broader context,” Steinhauer said of his close friend. “That was Maury. He was a man of integrity.”

Branch spent four years teaching at Lawrence College before joining Albion’s economics and management department in 1953. A labor economics specialist, Branch also taught Basic Ideas courses during his 33-year Albion tenure. He also taught and was adviser for Great Lakes Colleges Association programs in the former Yugoslavia, Austria and Lebanon. He and GLCA students were in Beirut during the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War; the group, which included Branch’s family, had to evacuate to Athens.

In 1963, Branch served as a faculty intern on President John F. Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisors, specializing in international trade.

“Maury and I hunted together and he was a great deer hunter. We went to my place in the Upper Peninsula every May after graduation, too,” said Jim McCarley, professor emeritus of economics and management.

Branch taught an adjunct graduate course at Michigan State University for several years, but McCarley recalled that he declined MSU’s offer to join their faculty full-time. “He and Helen wanted to stay in Albion,” McCarley stated. “He was an all-around good colleague, both in the department and in the College as a whole.”

Susan Foster, ’72, recalls the first day of the first Basic Ideas class Branch taught. “During those days, women had to wear a skirt to class and the dining hall, and the male professors usually wore a coat and tie,” she recalled. “Maury had on a black turtleneck and a peace symbol pendant. We were off immediately to a very different start.

“His intellect and depth of understanding invited us to think critically, analytically and outside the box,” Foster said, noting that Branch was exceptionally devoted to his students as well. “He ate lunch in his office and told us we could always find him there. The whole Basic Ideas class would go to his house for dinner,” she recalled. “He inspired me to get a graduate degree, to write professionally and counsel cancer patients. He will always be in my heart and in every effort I make on behalf of other people”

Branch was an outdoorsman and woodworker, and built the family’s Albion home himself. A World War II veteran, Branch received a Purple Heart while seeing combat in Germany and France. In Albion, the Branches were active in the First Presbyterian Church and the Albion Friends Meeting. Branch, a Lansing native, was an alumnus of Michigan State University and earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin.

A memorial service for Branch will be held Saturday, May 10 at 11 a.m. at Silver Maples Retirement Community, 100 Silver Maples Drive, Chelsea, Mich. Memorial contributions may be made in Branch’s name to the American Friends Service Committee or the Nature Conservancy.