Robert N. Anthony, an honored member of the Harvard Business School faculty for more than 40 years and a prolific scholar, author and innovator in the field of management accounting and control, died Dec. 1 in New Hampshire.
Anthony, 90, made his mark in public service at the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies, died on Friday, Dec. 1, at the Kendal Retirement Community in Hanover, N.H., where he spent the last 15 years of his life.
Anthony became a full professor at Harvard in 1956, where he earned a doctorate in commercial science in 1952. Anthony had left his tenure as a research assistant in 1941 to join the U.S. Navy as an ensign and retiring from active duty in 1946 as a lieutenant commander. With the onset of the Korean War in 1950, Anthony briefly returned to government service as co-leader of a team that developed a modern accounting system for the U.S. Air Force.
He took another leave from academic live in 1965, with the country now involved in the Vietnam War, to serve as the Defense Department’s Assistant Secretary (Comptroller) under his former Hardvard accounting colleague, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
As chief of financial management for the Defense Department, Anthony was responsible for developing an $80 billion budget and presenting it to Congress, as well as collecting and analyzing quantitative information, and heading a mammoth effort to develop and install a new accounting and control system that, for the first time, made it possible to evaluate the costs of similar initiatives among the different branches of the armed forces.
A Federal Accounting Standards Board’s accounting standard (No. 34, “Capitalizing the Cost of Interest”) is directly traceable to his work. He also worked on a FASB initiative that recommended nonprofits produce the same sorts of financial reports as profit-making organizations.
A prolific writer, Anthony authored or coauthored some 27 books, many of which have gone through multiple editions and been translated into 15 languages.
Born in Orange, Mass., on September 6, 1916, Anthony is survived by his wife, Katherine Yeager, whom he married in 1973; a son, Robert Jr., of Bethesda, Md.; a daughter, Victoria, of Littleton, Mass.; five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife, Gretchen Lynch Anthony, of Bethesda.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Professor Anthony’s name to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Development Office, 1 Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756. A memorial service is being planned for January in Cambridge, Mass.
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