Irwin Kellner interviewed at News 12 in 2010.

Irwin Kellner interviewed at News 12 in 2010. Credit: John Dunn

Economist Irwin L. Kellner, whose insights informed readers, college students and corporate executives, has died.

He was 83.

Kellner died peacefully in his sleep on July 31 at his home in the village of Port Washington North after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, his family said.

Kellner's lengthy career included stints as an editor at Businessweek magazine, a research analyst for Philip Morris Inc., chair of economics at Hofstra University, president of Kellner Economics and an economist for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company and its successors as it combined with Chemical Bank and Chase Manhattan Bank.

His observations on the economy were widely circulated through interviews in Newsday, as a columnist for and in appearances on CNN, CNBC, ABC, News12 and other TV outlets. 

Ann Kellner said her husband was devoted to his family and his career.

"He loved us and he loved his work," she said.

When commuting to the office, he would rise early to avoid traffic. "He got out of bed at 4:55 and by a quarter to 7, he was at his desk," she said.

Born in Brooklyn on Oct. 4, 1938, Kellner attended Lafayette High School and was a classmate of actor Paul Sorvino.

As a teenager, Kellner spent summers in New Hampshire working at a soda fountain and other odd jobs, saving money until he could buy a "big, beautiful, pink Oldsmobile," Ann Kellner said. 

On Nov. 15, 1958, Kellner was at a dance with a date, but his eyes kept wandering to another girl in a red dress. Afterward, he managed to get the phone number of that girl, an Erasmus High School student named Ann Heiman. They married on Jan. 22, 1961, but every year they also celebrated the anniversary of that November dance.

Kellner, who served in the National Guard, earned a bachelor of arts and master's degree in economics from Brooklyn College and a doctor of philosophy degree in economics from the New School for Social Research.

A 19th century essayist named Thomas Carlisle  branded economics as "the dismal science," but Kellner loved telling jokes and breaking down the discipline in a way anyone could understand.

"When I was in fourth grade, he came to my class and he compared economics to chocolate bars," said his daughter, Lori Kellner.

He delivered many speeches, peppering them with one-liners like: "My wife lost her credit card, but I didn't report it — whoever found it is spending less."

Kellner also delighted in taking his father-in-law to professional wrestling matches where they met Andre the Giant and other performers.

In June, Port Washington North honored Kellner for serving 50 years on the village planning board.

In addition to his wife, Ann, and daughter Lori, Kellner is survived by another daughter, Shari of Roslyn, her husband, Jeff Jacobson, and their children, Sam, Marli and Olivia. 

Kellner was interred at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

Donations can be sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

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