Graduation year 1953 from sixth gradeWhere did you go to school after leaving BCD? I grew up on the AP Stokes place, in “Lake Cottage,” the first house to the south of BCD. I know every inch of the BCD grounds. I started BCD in 1945 in Kindergarten at Clipston Grange on the Lenox School Campus. My parents, William E. D. Stokes, Jr. and Lucia Stokes, were among the handful of families that started the school. Every year, the families and their kids all came together to put together the school. This meant moving boxes, cleaning rooms, etc. Right before my 1st grade year in 1946, I broke my leg and missed 50% of the year. As a result of getting behind, I stayed back in 3rd grade. I went to Lenox School in the 7th grade in the fall of 1953. I skipped 8th grade and graduated from Lenox “on time” in 1958. From 1958-1962, I was at Cornell University and graduated with a BA in Economics in 1962. In the period 1962-1964 I served in the US Navy. In the fall of 1964, I entered the University of Chicago, obtaining an MA in economics in 1966 and a PhD in 1969. Four of my teachers received the Nobel Prize in Economics. In the fall of 1967 I started teaching Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I later became the Department Head for five and a half years and am still on the faculty. I love my job. I stayed in the US Naval Reserve for 22 years and retired in 1984 with the rank of Commander.Where are you living now? My wife Diana and I live in Chicago right across from the Museum of Science and Industry where there are many space capsules. On weekends we go to our house in Sawyer, Michigan. We have two sons. William is 29 and a computer software engineer working on an NIH Grant. He was a BS (2002) and MS (2004) from Cornell University. His wife Melissa is a BS from Cornell University (2002) and PhD (2008) from Rutgers University in Biomedical Engineering. She works for Uni-Solar and they live in Stanton, Michigan. Our other son Houston A. Stokes, 27, graduated from the University of Michigan (with a year at Oxford) in 2004 and Washington & Lee School of Law in 2007. He clerked for a federal judge and is now working in Chicago for Littler Mendelson, in the area of labor law.
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)? I plan to continue to teach and do research. My area is econometric software development, International Economics and Applied Econometric Research. I have 94 publications, many of which are on line at www.uic.edu/~hhstokes
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? During my time BCD was a warm place where the teachers really tried to help the student. Students in the upper grades helped those in the lower grades. The classes were small. While in the 5th grade, I was the only boy in the room. This presented no problem. In my 6th grade year, several boys came into the 5th grade. When I graduated in 1953 there were no girls graduating that year and I was the sole graduate of the school! By far the best teacher I had at BCD was Mr. Cowhig, who taught 5th and 6th grade.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? The most important thing is to dream big and never give up. Many small things are happening all around you and only in later years do you see their eventual impact. For example, in my life in 1954 the transistor was developed. In the fall of 1957 I tracked Sputnik on my Ham Radio 6 hours after it went up. In 1962 the US put up John Glenn in orbit around the earth and in 1969, when I obtained my PhD, I saw Armstrong walk on the moon. It was quite a period of which I was excited to be part. The rise of the personal computer has taken scientific research away from the monopoly of the major universities and into the world and has resulted in major gains that can be shared among all people.In my own experience, in the lower grades many of the tasks involved things such as penmanship and spelling and foreign language that are not my strong points. I was not at the top of the class and felt pressure to do better. At Cornell I started in Economics, a very abstract subject that I found both fascinating and at which I excelled. My ability to do abstract work well helped me in statistics and computer programming and in my applied economic research. Memorizing was not needed. (I still have problems with spelling and penmanship but it matters less.) In my opinon one should strive to do what one likes and what one can do well.Student(s) currently at BCD can expect to still be alive in the year 2100. My only regret is that I will not be here to see all the exciting things that they will experience. My life has been wonderful.