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<< Back to Event Academic Tribute to Kenneth Arrow

Daniel McFadden

Nobel Prize in Economics, 2000; Presidential Professor of Health Economics, University of Southern California

My wife Beverlee Tito Simboli and I married in 1962. We have three grown children, Nina, Robert, and Raymond, and three grandchildren, Emily, Anne, and Daniel William. Beverlee is a photographer who is best known for her large-format Polaroid works with industrial and abstract subjects. She is the daughter of Raymond Simboli, who immigrated from Italy to Pittsburgh, PA, and was a professor of art in the School of Architecture at Carnegie-Mellon University. My daughter Nina has a B.A. in child psychology and is the executive chef for a corporation in Tucson, Arizona. Robert received his Ph.D. in material science from Carnegie-Mellon University, and heads a research group in the Intel research labs. Raymond received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, with specialization in technology management and directs software development at the Excite AtHome Company. Emily and Anne are Robert's daughters, and Daniel William is Ray's son.

I was born in 1937 in North Carolina, the eldest son of Robert Sain McFadden and Alice Little McFadden. My father was raised in the mountains of North Carolina, where the McFadden family first settled in 1740. He had only four years of formal schooling, but was a lightning calculator who at age 14 was hired to keep the books for the local bank. He was a gregarious man with a photographic memory for names, faces, and words. My mother was raised in a small Minnesota town on the South Dakota border. Her father Jim Little was born in Minnesota in 1856, the son of an immigrant from Ireland. He spent his early years as a horse trader in Dakota Territory, and became a prosperous small-town businessman. My mother received a degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1922, and an MFA from Columbia. She moved from New York to an architectural practice in Ohio, and later joined the faculty at the University of Cincinnati. She was a quiet, generous person with a fine mind for logic.

My parents met in 1929 when my mother was teaching for a semester at the University of North Carolina. In 1936, she left university life in Cincinnati and married my father. They settled on a remote farm in rural North Carolina, and led an unconventional life, with no electricity or running water and little money. My father was a great collector and reader of books, and I grew up surrounded by his library. My mother became a high school mathematics teacher. Most of our food was grown on the farm. Neighbors were remote, and reading was the primary recreation. I grew up planning to become a farm agent, or a novelist in the florid style of Thomas Wolfe. I was active in 4-H, winning a state championship for my soil conservation projects, and blue ribbons for my sheep and geese. I milked three to five cows each day, and we sold butter, cottage cheese, peanuts, corn, and hay. My parents taught me that to lead a virtuous life, I should be modest, take my satisfaction from work done well, and avoid being drawn into competition for status and rewards.