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Photo of Willis J. Winn

Willis J. Winn

  • President, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 1971–1982
  • Born: April 26, 1917
  • Died: April 11, 2002

Willis J. Winn served as the sixth president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland serving from September 1971 to April 1982.

Winn was born in 1917 in Plattsburg, Missouri, where his grandfather had been a founder of the First National Bank of Plattsburg. He graduated from Central College in Fayette, Missouri, and received his master’s degree in finance from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1942, he moved to New York and became a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Winn later returned to the University of Pennsylvania as an instructor in the Wharton School of Finance. He earned his doctorate there in 1951 and was named a professor of finance in 1957.  He coauthored several books during those years and became a pioneering expert on the securities market.

Between 1955 and 1957, Winn became vice dean and then dean of the Wharton School. He became the University of Pennsylvania’s vice provost in 1958. Enrollment doubled during his tenure there.  For five years during this period, he served as the executive secretary of the nationwide Institute of Investment Banking, held at the University.

Winn’s association with the Federal Reserve System began in 1961, when he was appointed director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; in 1965, he began two terms as its chairman. The Cleveland Fed’s Board of Directors nominated him as its president after the death of his predecessor, W. Braddock Hickman, in 1970.

Winn’s tenure on the policy-formulating Federal Open Market Committee, as president of the Cleveland Fed, coincided with that of Arthur F. Burns and Paul A. Volcker, during a period of rampant and volatile inflation. Along with Volcker, he supported difficult policy decisions of raising interest rates to curtail inflation. Winn was known as a national expert on monetary policy, an outstanding scholar, and a committed participant in Cleveland’s civic affairs and regional economic issues.

Winn acted as a catalyst in bringing community leaders together to discuss the problems then facing Cleveland. He served as a trustee at Case Western Reserve University and on the boards of the United Way, Cleveland Commission on Higher Education, Greater Cleveland Growth Association, Torch Services Board, and University Circle, Inc. In addition, he was a member of Cleveland Tomorrow and the 50 Club of Cleveland.

Winn was awarded an honorary law degree by the University of Philadelphia in 1972, as well as honorary degrees from Central College, Babson Institute, and Villanova University.

Winn and his wife, Lois, had a son and a daughter. When he retired in 1982, he and his wife relocated to their family’s century home and farm in Missouri, where he resided until his death in 2002.

Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. See disclaimer.