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  Interviews by
  Charlotte Snow

  Photography by
  Dan Dry


  > > Coming of age
  > > Positively medieval
  > > Elements of style

  > > Gift trapped

Ten Chicagoans master the art of growing older

image: "Coming of Age" headlineHortense Friedman, 98  On a chilly autumn afternoon, Hortense Friedman, PhB'22, heats water for tea on the Universal stove she's used since moving into her Evanston apartment in 1953. A financial officer at the University for more than 40 years, she still reads the Wall Street Journal "pretty thoroughly every day." She has set the day's edition on her coffee table next to a photo album chronicling a July 1937 pack trip along the Sierra Nevada Mountains' John Muir Trail. It's one of the many camping and riding trips Friedman took for her vacations.

image: Hortense Friedman, 98"After graduating from the University of Chicago, I tried to get jobs in business and couldn't. Women had to be a nurse or a stenographer. After I mastered Gregg shorthand, I became secretary to the University's assistant business manager, George O. Fairweather [SB'06, JD'09]. After one year as secretary, I started playing with investment analysis. Instead of firing me, they put me in a private office and said, 'Go do it.' They set me on the endowment list, checking up on individual securities.

"In '38 they made me assistant treasurer. It was that way for another three decades. We branched out into high--yielding, unconventional endowment investments, like an oil tanker that we bought hook, line, and sinker. We also had an interest in one company in Denver that was making parts for traffic signals just when the national highway system was in the making.

"President Hutchins wanted younger treasurers more willing to reach for higher endowment income. He wanted that income pretty intensely. There were always interesting things to examine and select. I retired in January 1969. I worry now that I've been existing on a University pension for much longer than anyone would have expected!

"It was comfortable to work very hard at my salary, which was not competitive with business salaries, for something I believed in. I was willing to give a lot of my time and energy in excess of what was required because I believed in the University. I liked what I was working to accomplish, that it wasn't for some stockholder's profit. And the working atmosphere at the University was different from that of some of the legal and advertising offices around town that were always having rowdy parties. The University was a mannerly place.

"My advice is to buy stocks to stay a holder, not for a quick profit. Enjoy ownership and pay attention. Sell when it no longer seems to have promise."

link to: Catherine Dobson link to: top of the page link to: "Coming of Age" link to: Ferdinand Kramer


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