My friend and fellow UCLA alum, Tom Hazlett, has a beautiful appreciation of Fred Kahn in the Financial Times (HT to Don Boudreaux). Tom is one of the best writers in economics. I learned so much from this relatively short eulogy.
I wrote Tom to congratulate him on his piece and said that, from afar, I had always appreciated the twinkle in Kahn's eye. Tom wrote back and gave me permission to share this:
There was lots more that I wanted to say about Fred, referencing more his "twinkle" and the graciousness with which he treated younger colleagues (including me). In one draft I had a reference to your "joy of economics" - which aptly applied to the way Fred delighted in explaining the ups and downs of marginal cost pricing. It all went in the shredder to fit the allotted space.
Another story you'll appreciate: My friend Dennis Weisman wrote the famous economist years ago, when Dennis was a graduate student @ U Florida, asking many questions about public utility pricing. He received back a 6 page letter. They ended up co-authoring an article for the Yale Journal on Regulation. Unheard of with other prominent 'senior level scholars,' but just another day at the office for Fred -- and a defining career-building experience for Dennis.
On the plus side, I am happy that last August, when visiting the Finger Lakes with the family, we (Hazletts) got to swing by Fred's Ithaca office and get a quick tour... after which he had to get back to finishing his comment for a FERC proceeding (!). He was his wonderful self, and regaled my daughters (10 and 12) with stories, aphorisms, and a tour of his 1824 house which he used as an office.