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Photo of David M. Lilly

David M. Lilly

  • Governor, Board of Governors, 1976–1978
  • Born: June 14, 1917
  • Died: February 12, 2014

David M. Lilly became a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on June 1, 1976, and served until his resignation on February 24, 1978.

Lilly was born in 1917 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from the Saint Paul Academy in 1935 and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College in 1939. He was in private banking from 1940 to 1941, and was assistant to the undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1941 to 1942. Lilly served with the US Army from 1942 to 1945 and was discharged, after decoration with the Bronze Star, at the rank of major.

Lilly joined the Toro Company in 1945 as vice president and general manager, and was elected to the board of directors. He became president of the company in 1950 and chairman in 1968, a post he held until his appointment to the Board of Governors.

Lilly engaged in a variety of civic and business activities early in his career. He served as Minnesota Republican State Central Committee treasurer (1963–66), and as chairman of the Minnesota Republican State Finance Committee (1966–68). He also became a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 1969 and was chairman of the board from 1971 to 1973. At the time of his appointment to the Board of Governors, Lilly was a director of several corporations, chairman of the board of trustees of Carleton College, a member of the Visiting Committee to the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, and a member of the Council of the Alumni of Dartmouth College.

During his time at the Board, Lilly believed fighting inflation was imperative, calling inflation “a disease that could change the entire fabric of our life unless it is brought under control.” 

Lilly also fostered some notable changes in the Board of Governor’s physical environment during his tenure. He hired James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme, of Oehme van Sweden, to renovate the gardens at the Board’s Martin building. He was also responsible for changing the shape of the table in the room where the Federal Open Market Committee meets from rectangular to oval which, in his words, created “a group dynamic.”

After leaving the Board of Governors, Lilly served as dean of the University of Minnesota School of Management (1978–83) and as the university’s vice president for finance and operations (1983–88).

Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.