Frank Edward Norton, Jr.
Associate Professor of Business Economics, Emeritus
Frank Norton was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Frank seldom talked about his growing up there but a few things are known by his close friends. His father was a successful real estate developer who, like many others, was severely affected by the Depression. Frank graduated from high school in Detroit and the family moved to San Jose, California, sometime in the mid 1930s. Frank graduated from San Jose State College magna cum laude in economics in 1942. Frank often spoke of an early interest and study in engineering and this led him to study mathematics, but we who knew him believe that the Depression deeply affected him and this changed his interest to economics.
Frank went to graduate school to study economics at UC Berkeley. In his earliest years there he taught in the V-12 program sponsored by the U.S. military and then spent the academic year 1947–1948 as an acting instructor at Stanford. He came to UCLA as an acting assistant professor in 1948, completed his Ph.D. degree in economics at Berkeley in 1952, and continued his academic life at UCLA until he retired in 1985.
Even before completing the Ph.D., Frank had a paper on Capital Theory published in the American Economic Review in 1951. Later papers appeared in the Journal of Business, Southern Economic Journal, and others. He ventured into the study of mergers with Fred Weston.
Frank became a tenured associate professor in 1956 and then went to Washington as Senior Staff Economist to the Council of Economic Advisors upon the recommendation of Neil Jacoby, Dean of the School, who was on leave as a member of the Council. In 1959, he and Jacoby published a joint monograph Bank Deposits and Legal Reserve Requirements.
Frank lectured in the UCLA Executive Program and appeared in the UCLA Forecast on topics like the importance of inventories and capital equipment in the U. S. economy.
In 1969, Frank was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Economics at York University in Toronto, Canada, having been invited there by Dean James Gillies who had earlier been a friend and colleague at UCLA and who thought that he might recruit Frank to this new school. While there Frank dug into the Canadian economy so that his lectures on macroeconomics linked directly to that economy. He became actively involved in defining the curriculum in economics with the faculty in this new school at York. However, Frank loved California and returned to UCLA after his visiting appointment was over.
Shortly after his return to California, Frank had a heart attack. Although he recovered from it by diligent exercise at the Westside YMCA heart rehabilitation program, it changed his behavior within the University. He continued to emphasize his commitment to teaching. He made it relevant to current affairs. He honed his lectures to perfection. To the surprise of some students, he even read and graded his own exam papers. He was on more than 60 doctoral committees, chairing two of them.
Frank continued to have a fine analytical mind in economics, but he was unwilling to offer some of his work for publication. He had a strong bent for testing his hypotheses, but felt that it was intellectually dishonest to change the assumptions of these hypotheses endlessly just to turn out another paper. He felt that good people already knew the things that he would publish. So, to his own professional detriment, he declined.
Even during the 20 years of his retirement, he continued to read and study and talk about economics. His love for economics was second only to his love for his wife, Lorraine, and son, John.
Frank was first, last, and always an economist. Given a choice he would say that he wanted to be remembered as an economist, and this is how we remember him.