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Fred Sanderson McChesney
Viewing: November 10, 2017 (Friday) from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Service: November 11, 2017 (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m.
Location: Holy Redeemer Catholic Church

FRED SANDERSON McCHESNEY (Age 68)

On Thursday, October 12th, Fred Sanderson McChesney died peacefully with family at his side, in Washington DC.  Beloved husband of the late Sheila Elaine McChesney, loving father of Madeleine Claire (Eduardo Patricio Wisbrun), Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzy”), Robert William, IV (Kristina Igorevna), and James Edward, and grandfather of Thomas Daniel and Nicolas Matthew Wisbrun.

 Fred was born in Washington, D.C., on November 19, 1948, the son of Robert WilliamMcChesney, Jr. and the late Louise Sanderson McChesney, and was raised in Montgomery County, Maryland. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda and Holy Redeemer School in Kensington, graduated from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in 1966, and the College of the Holy Cross in 1970.  Fred went on to earn his J.D. from the University of Miami in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia in 1982.

 Fred was the eldest of seven children and was adored by his surviving siblings, Robert William, III, S.J., Michael Joseph, William David (Annie), Kathleen Marie (Brian Alpert), Marie Louise (“Weed”) Forte (Greg), and Mary Woodchek (Eric). He was loved and admired by his 13 nieces and nephews.

 A master storyteller, Fred drew from vast life experiences to provide his material. He was a world traveler with an ever-curious intellect, a voracious reader, an avid baseball fan, a music lover with encyclopedic knowledge of music of the 1950s and 1960s. (His daughter Lizzy, a professional musician known as Lissy Trullie, cites early memories of spending hours listening to the “oldies” with her dad as a source of inspiration.) He entertained, amused and delighted his family at their frequent gatherings. He was a giant personality and filled every room he entered.

 Fred had a gregarious nature and was cherished by his many friends and colleagues. His educational and professional endeavors took him around the country and abroad. He had a special love for France and was fluent in French and German. Fred made life-long, loyal friends everywhere he went.

 Fred had a distinguished professional life which began with the practice of law at a large firm in Washington, D.C.  He went on to serve as the Associate Director for Policy and Evaluation at the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan administration.  The bulk of his substantial career, spanning 35 years, was as a professor of both law and economics at numerous universities, including Northwestern where he was the James B. Haddad Chair from 1999-2011, Cornell from 1997 to 1999, Emory from 1983-1997, and, most recently, the University of Miami School of Law where he was the de la Cruz-Mentschikoff Endowed Chair in Law and Economics.  

Professor McChesney’s primary teaching and scholarly interests were in the fields of antitrust, corporations, and law & economics, about which he wrote over one hundred books, articles, monographs, and other scholarly works published by leading academic presses and journals.

 Fred is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in the field of public choice economics. Public choice economics, recognized with a Nobel Prize in economics for one of its founders in 1986, argues that political actors behave according to private incentives instead of the public good.  Fred extended the literature in his 1997 Harvard Press book, Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction and Political Extortion, arguing that politicians receive contributions and other rewards not only for acting, but also for threatening to act, and then not executing on those threats.  Hence the title of the book.  In the 1995 University of Chicago Press Book, Causes and Consequences of Antitrust: The Public Choice Perspective, which Professor McChesney both edited and contributed to, he used public-choice theory to critique claims that antitrust laws serve the public good and are thus vulnerable to special interest groups like other laws.

 He also wrote extensively on the importance of providing rights to property, noting that the failure to provide such rights historically to Native Americans has been a significant cause of their economic plight.  His 2003 Princeton University press book,   Property Rights: Cooperation, Conflict and Law, is an important contribution to property rights literature. 

 Professor McChesney was noted for his excellent teaching, received multiple awards for his excellence in the classroom, and was a mentor to many students during his long academic career.

 Visitation will be held Friday, November 10 from 4 – 7:30 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 9705 Summit Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Redeemer Church on Saturday November 11 at 10:00 a.m. Burial arrangements are private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Miami School of Law, in memory of Fred S. McChesney's name, 1311 Miller Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

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