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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gordon Winston Obituary

Gordon C. Winston

1929-2013 WILLIAMSTOWN - Professor Gordon C. Winston, 84, of 4 Windflower Way, Williamstown, MA, died Tuesday, December 3, 2013 in Florida where he had been vacationing with family. Gordon was the Orrin Sage Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus and former chairman of the Economics Department and Provost at Williams College. He also directed the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education. Born in 1929 in San Francisco, California, son of Chester Parker Winston and Lois Warner Winston, Gordon graduated from high school in Spokane, Washington and then, in 1950, from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, with a degree in English. After completing a Masters degree in English at the University of Washington, Gordon enlisted in the Army and served for two years during the Korean War. Following his military service, Gordon worked for a number of years with the International Paper Company. In 1960, Gordon returned to graduate school, this time in Economics at Stanford University, where he earned his PhD in 1964. Gordon's first job after completing his PhD was an appointment in the Department of Economics at Williams College, where he spent his entire academic career. In the course of his distinguished career Gordon served with the Ford Foundation in Karachi, Pakistan, at the Pakistan Institute for Development Economics, advising the government on economic development policies and training Pakistani economists. He returned to Pakistan as an economic advisor in 1969 and later served in that capacity in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) and Nigeria. Gordon held numerous prestigious positions during his time at Williams, including appointments at Nuffield College, Oxford University; Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tulane University; Visiting Scholar at the Institute for International Economic Studies at the University of Stockholm, and Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. At Williams College, Gordon served as Chairman of the Department of Economics, Provost of the College, and Director of the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education. Gordon's intellectual interests were wide ranging, spanning economic development, capital and production theory, consumption theory, and finally the economics of higher education. It's in the last of these fields that Gordon had the biggest impact. During his tenure as Provost at Williams, Gordon developed innovative approaches for understanding the sources and uses of financial resources in higher education institutions. He is credited with shaping much of the work in the economics of higher education over recent decades, particularly by developing tools that helpfully clarified the differences among the many varied institutions that make up American higher education and, importantly, differences in the rate at which children from different socioeconomic backgrounds attend college. All of this work focused on bringing greater justice to our higher education system, and his many op-ed pieces and frequent appearances in the media are known to have affected policy debates. Gordon was deeply committed to the idea that all high achieving students should have the opportunity to develop their abilities to the fullest, regardless of their family background. Gordon had a multitude of interests beyond academe, including motorcycling, sailing and power boating. His love of the water took him from the San Juan Islands to Long Island Sound to Captiva Island in Florida. He delighted in conversation with friends and colleagues and, most of all, cherished time spent with family. Survivors include his beloved wife Mary Winston, whom he married in 1980, sister Marjory Parker, and cherished children and stepchildren Victoria Winston and her husband Howard Schultz, Parker Winston and his wife Allison Bazin, Pamela Winston and her husband Leonard Bailey, Tracy Chipman and her husband Paul Chipman, and Stephanie Lamb. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Alexander, Benjamin, and Carter Schultz; Annabelle Winston; Gabriel Bailey; Renzie and Molly Chipman, and Maggie MacCallum. His first marriage, with Mary Wales, ended in divorce. A celebration of Gordon's life will be held in the spring. Donations in his name may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union ( and Compassion and Choices ( For further information, please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes


This obituary was originally published in the North Adams Transcript.
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Published online on 12/17/2013 courtesy of North Adams Transcript.