Former Carlson School Dean David Lilly passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 12. He was 96 years old. During his tenure as dean from 1978 to 1983, he substantially broadened the school's connections to the area business community.
Lilly was born in St. Paul and graduated from the St. Paul Academy and Dartmouth College. After a brief time at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942. He served in the South Pacific for three and a half years, working on the resupply of 150 to 200 ships in the U.S. fleet while stationed in Australia. This management-by-fire experience was to influence the rest of his career.
Upon his return to St. Paul, he met and married Perrin Brown and went to the Toro Company, where he worked as president from 1945 until he retired in 1978. He was then appointed by President Ford to fill an unexpired term as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.
He was then recruited to become dean of the Carlson School. As dean, he brought new energy and a huge list of connections to Twin Cities corporations. Within a year, outside contributions to the school grew from a paltry $12,000 to $598,000. By 1979, Lilly had beefed up contributions to more than $4 million.
As part of the school's outreach efforts, Lilly formed what would become a crucial part of the school's future: a Board of Overseers. Beginning in 1979, this group of business leaders, many of them graduates of the school, would help faculty and administrators forge new approaches to business education and develop programs that would connect the school to its community.
After five years as dean, Lilly was appointed vice president for finance and operations for the entire University of Minnesota. He retired from this position in 1992.
During his many careers, Lilly served on many corporate and civic boards, including the Scott-Atwater Company, Dayton-Hudson, Honeywell, General Mills, First Bank Systems and St. Paul Companies, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, the St. Paul Riverfront Corp., and the Ordway Theater.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Perrin Brown Lilly; children, David, Jr. (Diane), Bruce (Paula), and Susanne (Zenas); and six grandchildren, Z., Henry, and Perrin Hutcheson; Irene Lilly; and Austin and Robert Lilly.