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Alfred McDougal


1931 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Alfred McDougal Obituary
Born February 12, 1931 to Alfred and Mary (Gillett) McDougal, Fred grew up in Glencoe. At nine years old, encouraged by his father, he sold popcorn door-to-door, keeping track of income and expenses and learning valuable lessons for future business success. He attended New Trier High School and Andover Academy, then majored in English at Yale University, graduating in 1953. He earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School after serving a two-year stint as a clerk in the Army at Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 1960 Fred married Gudrun Fenger, a native of Denmark. They divorced in 1983, but in the meantime they raised two sons in Evanston in a house full of books and good humor. He taught his sons to play tennis, to value learning, and to consider the needs and perspectives of others. Fred directed the school book division of Rand McNally until 1969, when he and Joe Littell left to start their own textbook company. McDougal, Littell & Company distinguished itself immediately by producing a series of fine short fiction, poetry, drama, and essays, including works by African American and other minority authors, addressing difficult or controversial issues. The company grew to become the largest privately-held educational textbook publisher in the U.S. In 1986, Fred married Nancy Lauter, with whom he shared a love of learning, literature, art, and travel. Fred sold McDougal, Littell to Houghton, Mifflin in 1993 and established the McDougal Family Foundation, which has focused on supporting teacher professional development and improving the life chances of youth in Chicago. Fred and his wife Nancy were generous benefactors of Chicago cultural institutions as well as organizations dedicated to alleviating poverty. He was especially proud to support Opportunity International, which creates independent lending organizations in third world countries that provide training and micro-loans to entrepreneurs like he himself once was. He and Nancy also helped establish the McDougal Graduate Center at Yale University, which provides services, facilities and programing specifically for graduate students. Fred had a passion for tennis, golf, sailing, and jazz piano. But he was known and loved best for his generosity, modesty, honesty, keen insight, quick wit, and concern for others, which he kept even in the face of physical hardship. He will be missed by Nancy Lauter, his loving wife of 28 years and faithful caretaker during his illness; his sister Barbara Vinje (Svien); sons Tom (Sarah Duncan) and Steve (Jan); grandchildren Susan, Kevin, Eric, Kate, Nicholas, and Lis; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A celebration of his life will be held at Chicago Symphony Center at 9:30am on June 14. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer a contribution in Fred's name to Opportunity International.
Published in Chicago Tribune from June 8 to June 11, 2014
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