School 14

Robert Layer

February 1, 1921 ~ December 20, 2020 (age 99)


Robert Layer, age 99, died December 20, 2020 in Springfield, Illinois of complications from the COVID-19 virus.

He was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 1, 1921 to Edward and Elsie (Herbertz) Layer. His brother, Raymond Layer preceded him in death.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in January, 1943 from Ohio Wesleyan University where he majored in economics.

Bob enlisted in the Army E.R.C. in August, 1942 and was called to active duty in May, 1943. After basic training his entire military service was with the Office of Strategic Services. He served in Algeria, Italy, and Rumania. In 1945 he received direct commission as a 2nd Lt., AUS, and was awarded the “Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy” by the Italian government for his work in connection with the surrender of the German army in Italy.

He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Harvard University in 1948 and 1952, respectively.

He taught economics at Fairmont State College, West Virginia and Texas A&M College (now University).

In 1950 he married Jo Sager of Texico, Illinois who died in 2000. He leaves two daughters Julie Layer and Christine “Tina” Bennett; three grand-daughters April Jouse, Carla Jouse, and Rebecca Layer; two sons-in-law Robert Marsden and Jeffrey Bennett; and two step-grandsons Sean Marsden and Ryan Marsden.

In 1955 he was employed at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as the Chairman of the Economics Department and served in that capacity from 1955 to 1967 and 1972 to 1974. He was promoted to full Professor in 1959. He loved teaching and often said, “It is like having fun and getting paid for it.” His favorite course was Money & Banking which he taught for over 35 years.

He served first as Chancellor then President of Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1970 to 1972 following the student riots of the spring of 1970.

Prof. Layer had three full-year teaching sabbaticals: a Fulbright grant to the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, Bologna, Italy; a Rockefeller Foundation grant to Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand; and a Fulbright grant to Tehran University, Tehran, Iran.

Prof. Layer was an inveterate world traveler who visited some 79 countries during his lifetime.

In 2011 he moved to the Hickory Glen Retirement Community in Springfield, Illinois where he lived until his death.

His cremated remains will be buried in the Donoho Prairie Cemetery, Texico, Illinois in rural Illinois, next to those of his beloved wife.

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