Cover photo for Dr. Thomas Robert Saving's Obituary
Dr. Thomas Robert Saving Profile Photo
1933 Tom 2024

Dr. Thomas Robert Saving

December 27, 1933 — March 12, 2024

Thomas Robert Saving was born in Chicago, Illinois to Frances Camille Phillipino and Harold John Saving as one of five siblings. As a widely respected economist with a long and distinguished academic career, he helped shape U.S. Monetary Policy, Social Security, and Medicare. He continued his work in economic research at Texas A&M until his passing on March 12 at the age of 90.

Above his considerable professional renown, Tom was deeply adored by his family and wife, Barbara. He is most remembered as a loving father, a husband, a grandfather, and a loyal friend. Most of all, Tom had a heart for others, devoting his life’s work as a mentor and professor to the betterment of the world around him.   

In addition to spending time with his family and friends, Tom loved to read, write about economics, listen to symphonies, watch sports, and spend time at his ranch. Above all, Tom loved to make others laugh which was evident by his notorious witty humor. Even at 90 years of age, he loved challenging his family to games of driveway basketball and loved bragging about his patented hook shot. Tom’s ability to make others smile was refined over years of storytelling and reminiscing on his favorite memories. His engagement with his many friends incorporated countless humorous insults and embellished stories that were often repeated.

Until the day he was hospitalized, Tom stayed active by exercising daily, proudly refusing to take the elevator but rather the stairs, and fishing every chance he got in his quest to embrace and enjoy an active life. In his later years, he was affectionately known as “Speedy” within his independent living community as he was always on the move and walked so fast. He kept his mind young by reading, playing his clarinet daily, and doing crossword puzzles. He was revered for his uncanny ability to age gracefully — to the extent that he amazed every doctor and nurse he encountered because none of them could believe he was 90.

Academic prowess and accomplishments aside, Tom’s most admired feature and ultimate legacy beyond his loving family is his lasting friendships that date back several decades and span the globe including Mexico, South America, Japan, China, Germany, and many other countries. His weekly Saturday morning donuts group dates back more than 40 years.

Tom grew up with his sibilings in rural Indiana. After spending time in the United States Army, he left for East Lansing in pursuit of his Bachelor of Arts in economics from Michigan State University in 1957. He went on to earn respective master’s of arts and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Chicago in 1958 and 1960 as the foundation that kick-started his nearly six-and-half-decade career in academia, including more than five decades spent at Texas A&M University. He joined the economics faculty at Texas A&M in 1968 after faculty stints at the University of Washington from 1960 to 1961 and Michigan State University from 1961 to 1968, where he attained the rank of full professor in 1966, only six years after earning his Ph.D.

Tom served as head of the Department of Economics at Texas A&M from 1985 to 1991 and was appointed as a University Distinguished Professor in 1989. He was director of the Private Enterprise Research Center and Jeff Montgomery Professor of Economics at Texas A&M for more than a quarter century from 1991 to 2017. At the time of his death, he was a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Director Emeritus of the Private Enterprise Research Center.

Among his many career highlights, Tom was appointed by two U.S. presidents — Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2001 — as a public trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, an appointment he held until 2007. He also served on President Bush’s bipartisan President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security. He testified before congressional committees and other agencies on numerous occasions regarding Medicare and Medicaid policy and reform, Social Security, and rising healthcare costs and related consequences.

Throughout his distinguished career, Tom served as a consultant to a host of corporations, agencies, and associations across various industrial and economic sectors, from the Federal Trade Commission and the Institute for Defense Analyses to the American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health. He was a co-founder of RRC, an economic research consulting firm established in 1977 that he retired from in 2000 after 23 years. During this time, Tom served as an expert on more than 100 legal disputes, working on behalf of Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Alcoa Aluminum, to name a few. He also worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, presenting his research findings at the Pentagon on several occasions, including results that were used to improve the number of re-enlistments among key skill categories for the U.S. Air Force.

Tom’s lengthy record of professional service included presidential stints with the Association of Private Enterprise Education (2001-2002), the Southern Economic Association (1980-1981), and the Western Economic Association (1971-1972). Most recently in November, he was honored by the SEA as one of its inaugural Distinguished Fellows in recognition of his substantial record of exceptional scholarly achievement and long-term involvement and service to the SEA. He was also listed in Who’s Who in Economics, 3rd Edition.

In addition to hundreds of publications, papers and reports, Tom authored, co-authored, or co-edited six books: Money, Wealth and Economic Theory (Macmillan, 1967), which has been reprinted in both Chinese and Spanish, and Foundations of Money and Banking (Macmillan, 1968) with Boris P. Pesek; Medicare Reform: Issues and Answers (University of Chicago Press, 1999), The Economics of Medicare Reform (W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2000), and The Diagnosis and Treatment of Medicare (AEI Press, 2007) with Andrew J. Rettenmaier; and Live Free and Prosper (Amazon, 2015). A longtime editor (1977-1981) and co-editor (1997-2006) for Economic Inquiry and associate editor for the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking (1983-2002), he has published in all major U.S. economics journals and written many editorials that have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

Tom is preceded in death by his mother, Frances Camille Phillipino, who passed when he was very young, and his father, Harold John Saving, who passed just three weeks after Tom received his Ph.D. He is also predeceased by his three brothers, Harold, Frank, and Robert, along with his sister, Margaret. 

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara, and their two children, daughter Nicole Saving Youngblood (Ralph Jr.) and son Jason L. Saving (Tanya), as well as their five grandchildren, Blake Youngblood (Kayla), Logan Youngblood, Mark Saving, Emma Saving, and Amanda Saving.

In lieu of flowers or other offerings, memorial donations may be made to the Aggieland Humane Society or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

To order memorial trees in memory of Dr. Thomas Robert Saving, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Hillier Funeral Home of College Station

4080 Texas 6 Frontage Rd, College Station, TX 77845

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