May 7, 1930 -
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May 28, 2014
Eaton H. Conant, professor and arbitrator, died May 28, 2014 at age 84. His family indicated the cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Dr. Conant was Emeritus Professor at the University of Oregon where for over two decades he directed a graduate degree program in employee relations that conferred over four hundred degrees in labor relations and human resources studies. In addition, he was a prominent labor arbitrator in western states and Alaska.
Eaton H. Conant was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents, Ronald and Catherine Conant, were severely affected by economic problems of that time. Young Conant experienced poverty as a child. After high school he resolved to leave the stratification of the eastern U.S.. He enrolled and worked his way through undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He served in Army signal intelligence during the Korean War and was discharged as Sergeant.
Conant returned to Wisconsin and received the Ph.D. in industrial relations in 1960. He was on the faculties of Indiana University, the University of Chicago, and from 1966 to 1990, the University of Oregon in Eugene.
During his academic career he served as an economic and labor market consultant to a number of state and federal government organizations, including two appointments as a White House consultant. In 1975 and 1976 he made studies of international labor markets for the United Nations.
The several hundred persons who received graduate degrees under Conant are employed as employee relations managers and executives, agency heads, union leaders, labor lawyers, and consultants. He was a teacher who understood from experience that education could transform life circumstances. He sought to create educational opportunity.
Eaton H. Conant was for years a mediator and arbitrator of industrial disputes. During his career as a neutral he settled well over 500 strikes and conflicts. At one time or another he arbitrated disputes involving more than two-thirds of the several hundred U.S. unions. He served for many ranking corporations and government agencies, including Boeing, Boise-Cascade, Nordstrom, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Alaska ferries and railroad, and agencies of the states of Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Federal Departments and Agencies. He was a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators.
Professor Conant believed his early depression era experiences were unique background for a person who spent a life encouraging student achievement or in conflict resolution efforts between labor and employers. He often mentioned his gratitude to the University of Wisconsin as the institution that gave him background and opportunity for work and life.
Eaton H. Conant is survived by four children: James of New York, NY; Katherine Luhm of Seattle, WA; Clarke of Davis, CA; Keith of Portland, Oregon; and three grandchildren. His wife, Beth Conant, preceded him.
The family plans to have a private memorial ceremony.
Published in Eugene Register-Guard on June 8, 2014