Alfred E. Kahn, Cornell professor, dean, and trustee, public servant, and one of the nation's leading economists, died of cancer at his home at Kendal of Ithaca on December 27. He was 93. Fred served as chair of the New York State Public Service Commission; as chair of the Civil Aeronautics Board, where he was the driving force behind the U.S. Airline Deregulation Act of 1978; and as chair of the Council on Wage and Price Stability in the Carter Administration. He was the preeminent scholar of regulatory economics, but also enjoyed the great good fortune of being able to apply the theories he developed to broad industries, including, in addition to airlines, trucking, railroads, and telecommunications. Fred had a deep devotion to family and was deeply loved in turn. His parents, Jacob and Bertha Kahn, were Russian-speaking Jews from what is now Poland who immigrated to the United States before his birth. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was eight and his sister, Hannah (Hannah Kahn Barsky), thirteen years his senior, served as a surrogate mother to him. He was predeceased by her, by his brother, Dr. Sidney Kahn, a noted plastic surgeon, and by granddaughter Emily Simmons Kahn-Fogel. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Mary Simmons Kahn; by Sidney's wife, Heni; by his son Joel Kahn and Joel's wife Maila Stivens of Melbourne, Australia, by their children Jessica Kahn and Sophie Barrett-Kahn, both of New York City, son-in-law David Barrett-Kahn, and great-granddaughter Zoe Barrett-Kahn; by his daughter Rachel Kahn-Fogel and son-in-law Daniel Kahn-Fogel of Colchester, Vermont, by their children Nicholas Kahn-Fogel of Lusaka, Zambia, and Rosemary Kahn-Fogel Luttrell and Corey Luttrell of Athens, Georgia, and great-granddaughter Mary Alden Luttrell; by daughter Hannah Kahn and son-in-law Arthur Best of Denver, Colorado, and their children Rachel Best of Berkeley, California, and Eli Best of New Haven, Connecticut; by his nephew Peter S. Boone of Arlington, Virginia, for whom he and Mary were legal guardians, Amanda Cannell Boone, and Peter's daughters Emily Boone and Hannah Boone; and by numerous nieces and nephews. Fred had a joyful love of musicals, of the great American songbook, and of Gilbert and Sullivan. As a performer he delighted the community with his comic timing, agile dancing, and beautiful voice in lead roles in many productions of the Cornell Savoyards—he performed all of the famous patter songs as well as the role of the tragic jester Jack Point in The Yeoman of the Guard—and in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music at Cornell. A seminar room in the Department of Music at Cornell is named in his honor. Funeral arrangements will be made by Bangs Funeral Home with a private burial. A memorial celebration of his life will be held in the late spring or early summer. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Hospicare of Tompkins County.
Published in Ithaca Journal on Dec. 29, 2010