"Jim Schiller" By Bruce Parry
I knew Jim since we were office mates in the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of Baltimore in the 1980s. We often got together socially and were a pair of radicals in the Department.
I particularly remember Jim for his collegiality. He was the kind of instructor—the only one in the Department, I think—who would gather students around between classes and discuss economic issues and theories of the day. Eight or ten students would gather and he’d prompt them to use the economic theory they had been taught. He’d compare theories and theorists. The students loved it. He had a firm foundation in the History of Economic Thought and used it in all his courses. He was regularly selected as one of the best teachers in the department.
That’s why it hurt so much was he was denied the opportunity to compete in a tenure-track position. The School of Business was going for accreditation and felt that the emphasis was on having people with Ph.D.’s instead of having effective teachers. Jim was squeezed out and it led to he and Susan moving to Denver.
We stayed in touch and I visited them in Denver and they came to Chicago, particularly on the way to seminars and conferences on free thought and freedom from religion. We always had a good time when we got together and engaged in fun discussions of the issues facing the country and the world.
Jim was a bit OCD, but so am I and I learned from him. He kept a record of all the care his car got, including gasoline, repairs and maintenance. Since his car had something like 175,000 miles on it, it inspired me to do the same thing. I do it to this day. I sold my last car with 240,000 miles on it, so it works! Along the same lines and more recently, I noted that he still shaved with an old safety razor. I recommended to him he look at the razor I used. He asked me the price and the number of shaves per razor and calculated immediately that I spent about 12 cents per shave! I’m pretty sure he never changed, though.
Susan and Jim also invited me down to New Zealand while they were visiting Julia and Nicholas. I really enjoyed the time we spent together seeing Auckland. It was terrific. One day he and I decided to go on a Segway tour. Segway’s are the two-wheeled, upright, one-person vehicle you see cops and tourists use. We went on a great tour of Devonport, across the bay from Auckland. We did the training period of about half an hour and then zoomed all over Devonport with our tour guide. Jim was great. He handled the Segway like an old pro, all the while looking like the professor he was.
Jim was a beautiful person. He was an independent thinker who cared about the issues of the day and took action on them. He was as collegial with others as he had been with his students years before. He was generous. And he was loving. I know I miss him and wish he was still here to talk with, to be with and to play around with like we did with the Segway’s.
Thank you Susan for the opportunity to get this down on paper and remember Jim and all he meant to me.