We are very sad to announce the loss of Ulric Spencer after a short illness on November 4th. He was a longstanding member from 1958 to the present time and became one of the Society’s first Fellows in 1986. Ulric will be known to many members as former Reviews Editor of the journal – a task he carried out from the very beginning until 2006. He was an avid reader, reflecting his open mindedness and desire for understanding, and claimed to enjoy the role as he “got to read books before anyone else”. Some of the best reviews were the short, anonymous ones which he wrote himself where his dry sense of humour frequently emerged. He was a stalwart of the journal editorial panel and an eagle-eyed proof reader.
Ulric’s other huge contribution to the Society was running the Statistics Section for many years. His tireless work enabled the Section to continue functioning long after other sections had folded. Thanks to his efforts many economists developed a much better understanding about how statistics are compiled and he inspired some to develop a real passion for the subject. He represented the Society on the Statistics User Council and then on the Statistics User Forum. With Ian Maclean he wrote a report in 2002 for the Statistics Commission urging improvements in UK statistics legislation and comparing it with that of other countries and he played a leading role in the SBE’s lobbying around the 2007 Statistics and Registration Service Act.
A well respected economist and statistician, Ulric had a long and distinguished career in industry until the 1980’s when he joined the Government Statistical Service. After he retired Ulric worked on various economics and statistics consultancy projects until well into his 70’s, amongst other things compiling the front matter for The Economist desktop diary for a few years. Even after having a massive stroke in 2010 at the age of 79, he continued to proof-read economics books for Cambridge University Press for a while.
Outside the world of economics and statistics, Ulric had a passion for the arts and was a founder member of the Reading Film Theatre when it was set up in the early 1970s. In his role as former Chair, he worked tirelessly to ensure the success and smooth running of RFT, despite many challenges over the years.
Those who knew him will remember his sense of humour, often aimed at himself, and which was evident even after his stroke. “I live with my memories, only some of which are accurate” he wrote in one email and, conscious of the misspellings the stroke caused in his typing, he signed it: “Ulric E&OE”. They will remember his intellectual curiosity, always willing to investigate a new idea and to inspire others to do so. He was a delight to work with, always courteous and helpful and always reliable.
Marian Marshall once said of him, “While no-one is indispensable, someone like Ulric is irreplaceable”. Those who knew him will agree.
His funeral is at Reading (Caversham) Crematorium on Tuesday 6th December at 1:45pm. No flowers.