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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Henry Bruton Obituary

Prof. Henry J. Bruton

1921 - 2013 WILLIAMSTOWN Prof. Henry Jackson Bruton, 91, of 300 Syndicate Rd., Williamstown, died Thursday January 31, 2013, in Williamstown after a long illness. He was the John J. Gibson Professor of Economics Emeritus and former chair of the Center for Development Economics (CDE) and chairman of the Department of Economics at Williams College.

Born in Dallas, Texas, on August 30, 1921, son of Gus and Mary (Clark) Bruton, Henry attended schools in Dallas County and in 1943 received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, including time in Europe during World War II. In 1947 he received an M.A. in Economics from Indiana University and in 1952 a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. After teaching at Princeton, Harvard, Yale and the University of Bombay, he came to Williams in 1962 and taught there until 2004. He taught one of the most important courses annually in the Williams CDE program along with a wide variety of undergraduate courses. In addition to chairing the CDE and the Department of Economics, he served on college committees, including chairing the one that planned the College's Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences. After retirement from teaching, he led frequent discussions among Fellows of the CDE and wrote a thought-provoking column in its newsletter for alumni. He also taught briefly as a visitor at Bennington College. He was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Williamstown.

Henry was well known in many parts of the world for his work in economic development, serving as an advisor to the World Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and to various economic agencies in Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Egypt.

Across five decades at Williams, Henry played a pivotal role in the lives of many students by asking questions that spurred them to think deeply about the well-being of others. Williams President Adam Falk noted that "through his fieldwork and the influence of his many students in positions of authority around the world, Henry's stature far exceeded his frail frame."

Survivors include his wife, Mary Frances Barnes Bruton, whom he married in Iran in 1959. He also leaves a nephew, Dr. Stephen Green and his wife Fran of Winterville, N.C. and a niece, Marcia Martin of Dallas.

Two sisters, Mary Virginia Bruton and Louise Green, predeceased him.

FUNERAL NOTICE: Burial will be in the Williams College Cemetery at 2:30 PM on Sunday February 10, 2013. A memorial service for Prof. Henry Jackson Bruton will be held Sunday at 3:00 P.M. at the Center for Development Economics at Williams College. There are no calling hours. The FLYNN & DAGNOLI-MONTAGNA HOME FOR FUNERALS CENTRAL CHAPEL at 74 Marshall St. North Adams, MA is in charge of arrangements. For further information, please visit


This obituary was originally published in the North Adams Transcript.
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Published online on 2/5/2013 courtesy of North Adams Transcript.