School 13


Marvin Frankel

1924 - 2021


Marvin Frankel passed away peacefully on April 5, 2021 at Meadowbrook Health Center in Urbana. He had recently turned 97 years old.

Born March 28, 1924, in Oakland, CA to Joseph and Mathilde (Sewelson) Frankel, Marvin graduated from University High School in Oakland, at the age of 16. He then began his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, interrupting them for 3 1/2 years to serve in the Army Air Corps. He trained in a variety of aircraft, including the B-17 and the B-29. He was preparing to depart with his airplane and crew for the South Pacific in August of 1945, when, fortunately, WWII came to an end. He remained in the service for 5 months and then returned to Berkeley, where he received a BA (1947) and PhD (1953) in Economics. In pursuit of his doctorate, he spent a year at the London School of Economics. While overseas he received an offer to join the staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Marvin and his wife, Matilda (Mati) Shoenberg Frankel, moved to Urbana in 1952 for what they thought would be a brief stay at the Bureau before moving back to California or perhaps elsewhere. But a few years later, Marvin received an appointment in the Department of Economics at the U of I, serving as Department Chairman from 1967 to 1971 and at other times as Associate Dean of the Graduate College, Director of Graduate Studies in Economics, and Acting Director (1987-1988) of the Bureau that originally brought him to Illinois. He remained a full professor in the department until retiring in the early 1990s. He very much enjoyed his work at the University. His publications include seminal work in productivity, economic growth, and environmental economics. Marvin was also a Visiting Professor at Stanford (1958); served as a consultant to government and industry; and continued his pursuit of aviation, actively flying as a civilian pilot until the age of 78.

During their 68 years of marriage, Marv and Mati traveled the world, frequently with the family in tow. But they always returned to Urbana, where colleagues at the University (where Mati also worked) and in the greater community brought them not only enjoyment but the intellectual stimulation they both craved. Marvin and Mati lived fulfilling lives, enjoying their careers and relishing time with family and friends. We are forever grateful to the wide network that contributed to that. Mati passed away in 2019.

Marvin is survived by his daughter, Karen Frankel Seiter, and her husband Henry of Urbana; son Kenneth Frankel (Zsanett York) of Issaquah, WA; son David Frankel (Karl Brown) of St. George, UT; grandsons Israel Seiter, Stephen Seiter, and Joshua Seiter; four great-grandchildren; and seven nieces and nephews.

Services will be private.

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Tom Ulen

April 8, 2021 11:53 AM

I had the great privilege and joy of having Marv as a colleague in the Department of Economics. When I joined the faculty and as I was working to establish my career, Marv was so helpful and so thoughtful every time we met. He was a wonderful man, friend, and colleague. He will be greatly missed. 

A Memorial Tree was planted for Marvin Frankel

April 6, 2021 2:01 PM
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