Dr. Linda Datcher Loury, professor of economics at Tufts University whose research and teaching centered on the quantitative study of educational, employment and earnings inequalities in the U.S., died on Sept. 22, 2011. She was 59 years old.
At home in Brookline, Mass. — surrounded by her husband of 28 years, Glenn Loury, her devoted sons, Glenn II and Nehemiah, and her faithful dog, McCoy — she finally succumbed after an 11-year struggle with breast cancer.
Dr. Loury grew up in Baltimore, Md. At the age of 12 she received a full scholarship to attend the Friends School of Baltimore where she excelled in the classroom as a student, and on the playing field as an athlete. She went on to major in economics at Swarthmore College, from which she graduated with distinction in 1973.
A year later she enrolled as a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, in 1978, she became the first African American woman to be awarded the Ph.D. in economics by that institution.
Dr. Loury spent the first four years of her career as a scientific investigator for the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Michigan. There she inaugurated a life-long research program that focused on identifying and measuring the economic effects of social identity and social networks. She was ahead of her time in the empirical study of such phenomena.
Her pioneering research three decades ago helped launch the now burgeoning field of Social Economics. Her more recent contributions have included an innovative investigation of the effects of gender and skin color on educational and economic outcomes, as well as a study of the impact of grandparents’ educational achievements on the life outcomes of their grandchildren.
In 1984, after a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Loury joined the faculty of Tufts University as an assistant professor of economics. Over the course of her 27 years at Tufts she rose to the rank of full professor.
A tribute to her posted by the Tufts economics department stated, “All who have ever interacted with Linda at Tufts will never forget her razor-sharp intellect, cultural depth, no-nonsense wisdom, exceptional moral compass, fortitude of character, unpretentiousness and warm sense of humor.”
Although Linda Loury’s contributions as scholar and teacher were noteworthy, even more important to her was her role as mother and wife. She met her husband in graduate school at M.I.T. They were married in 1983 and were blessed with two sons: Glenn II (born in January 1989) and Nehemiah (born in December 1991).
Linda was a dedicated and resourceful mother. She founded a network of African American families in the Boston area who collaborated on providing cultural and academic enrichment for their children.
She served as a volunteer teacher of mathematics at the Lawrence School — the public institution in Brookline which her children attended. And, working though her church, she invited disadvantaged youngsters into her home for tutoring in reading and mathematics.
Loury was one of four children. In addition to her husband and her two sons, she is survived by her mother Helen Datcher, her sister Rhonda Patterson, and her two brothers Griffin Jr. and Victor Datcher. Her funeral was on Sunday at the Bethel A.M.E. Church on Walk Hill Street in Jamaica Plain. She was buried at the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.