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Professor emeritus and public power expert Frederick Morrissey dies at age 82

– Frederick Patric Morrissey, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and a nationally recognized expert on the finance and regulation of public utilities, died on Feb. 27 at the age of 82.

Morrissey, a resident of El Cerrito, died at John Muir Memorial Hospital in Walnut Creek of complications from a brain aneurysm.
 Frederick Morrissey
Frederick Morrissey (Ed Kirwan Graphic Arts photo)

The native of Brantford, Ontario, earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto in 1943. He served as a captain in the Canadian Army from 1943 to 1945, and became the first non-medical officer to receive a commission in the Royal Canadian Medical Corps.

Morrissey returned to the University of Toronto, earning his master's degree in commerce in 1946, and began working as an instructor and lecturer in the university's Department of Political Economy from 1946 to 1947.

After receiving the Granville Garth Fellowship, Morrissey earned his Ph.D. in economics at Columbia University in 1949, writing his thesis on Ontario's public hydroelectric power commission.

He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1949 as a professor of business administration, and served in various administrative positions, including two terms as associate dean of academic affairs. As director of the Summer Session in the late '60s, at a time when the program had been running deficits, Morrissey reorganized to eliminate the red ink and make the program self-supporting. When the university switched from the semester system to the quarter system in the 1960s, he was appointed to implement the change on the UC Berkeley campus.

Morrissey took a leave from UC Berkeley to serve as a commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission from 1967 to 1969, and studied and wrote about utility problems. He also testified several times about regulatory issues before California legislative committees and before the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee.

After leaving the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Morrissey served as a consultant and expert witness in regulation cases in surrounding states, but declined requests to participate in cases before the PUC.

In January 1975, he helped prepare an economic outlook report for UC Berkeley business administration alumni that predicted "dark" days ahead, when power demand would exceed supply.

The utility industry was suffering inflation in construction costs, high interest rates and skyrocketing fuel costs,. Utilities were cutting back on planned and actual construction, and regulatory commissions' inability to grant rate increases fast enough hobbled electric utilities in efforts to raise money in a depressed capital market, Morrissey said.

Morrissey was a member of the American Economic Association, Canadian Political Science Association, Royal Economic Association and the Western Economic Association. He left UC Berkeley in July 1985, receiving the Berkeley Citation for distinguished achievement and notable service to the university.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen; son, John, of Ridgefield, Conn.; daughter, Patricia Cahill of Oakville, Ontario; sister, Margaret Bourassa of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario; and four grandchildren.

His family requests a donation to a charity of personal choice in lieu of flowers.