MEARL R. GUTHRIE, JR., 1922-2013

B.G. professor championed consumer ed

Mearl R. Guthrie, Jr.
Mearl R. Guthrie, Jr.

BOWLING GREEN — Mearl R. Guthrie, Jr., who as a professor of business education believed that students should be taught the basics of earning, spending, and saving from kindergarten on, died Wednesday at Bridge Hospice Care Center. He was 90.

He’d been having ministrokes, his daughter, Carla Hall, said.

Mr. Guthrie arrived at Bowling Green State University in 1954 and was chairman of the business education department from 1957 until he retired in the mid-1980s.

“He was passionate about his profession, the discipline of business education, and influenced many, many people as students and advisees who eventually became leaders in the profession across the country,” said Robert Berns, a recent BGSU retiree and a former department chairman, who was a student of Mr. Guthrie’s and was hired by him.

Mr. Guthrie’s specialties were office management — how to plan, make decisions, delegate — and consumer education. He taught undergraduates, and he taught teachers who were pursuing master’s degrees. He presented seminars for midlevel managers in business and industry.

“He really enjoyed teaching,” his daughter said. “He was a professor at home or at work. He was good at making subjects real and practical.”

For a time, Mr. Guthrie sat on a state advisory committee on consumer economic education.

“Consumer education must be taught more vigorously and completely at all age levels,” Mr. Guthrie told The Blade in 1972. “It has been possible to go all the way through school and get a doctor of philosophy degree and not have a single course on economy. The economic ignorance of the average citizen is appalling.”

He believed that each person’s economic decisions functioned the way individual votes influence government decisions — and that consumers should educate themselves and take what they do seriously.

“The consumer makes the economy what it is,” Mr. Guthrie told The Blade in 1980. “He has a strong voice and a lot of power. If we continue to educate our consumers, the system will get even better.”

He strongly believed that consumers should build their savings. And to reinforce his main message — don’t spend money you don’t have — he used sayings he called “Guthrieisms.” Among them, his wife, Lolita, recalled, “Money spent for interest won’t buy you ice cream cones.”

In 1973, Mr. Guthrie was named Ohio Business Educator of the Year by the Ohio Business Teachers Association, of which he was a former president. He received the Diamond Merit Award in 1979 from the Toledo chapter of the Administrative Management Society. He received a distinguished service award in 1985 from the North Central Business Education Association.

Mr. Guthrie took a leave of absence in the 1960s to develop a division of business education at the College of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas. He also taught in Aruba and Haiti.

He was born Oct. 4, 1922, to Pauline and Mearl Guthrie. He grew up in Salina, Kan., and was a 1940 graduate of Abilene High School.

“He was proud that he had come with such simple roots,” his wife said. “He always remembered that his father had to give up his grandfather’s gun just to have enough money to put food on the table.”

Mr. Guthrie enlisted in the Army’s parachute infantry in 1943 and was in the 102nd Infantry Division. In Europe, he drove in the supply convoy known as the Red Ball Express, and he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

He received bachelor of science and master of arts degrees in business education from Ball State University. He received a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, which in 2006 named him a distinguished alumnus in connection with its centennial.

Outdoor pursuits, from hunting and fishing to canoeing and exploring, were interests from childhood on. He was a supporter of the Nature Conservancy and the Black Swamp Conservancy. He also was active in the Boy Scouts.

“He had a wonderful attitude toward life. He was upbeat and positive,” his daughter said. “He passed that on to me.”

Surviving are his wife, Lolita Guthrie, whom he married July 21, 1946; son, Scott Guthrie; daughter, Carla Hall, and a granddaughter.

Visitation will be from 1-4 p.m. Sunday in the Dunn Funeral Home, Bowling Green, where services will be at 11 a.m. Monday.

The family suggests tributes to First Presbyterian Church, Bowling Green, where he was an elder and trustee.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.