Anne Marie Gonczy joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in the 1960s, when women staffers were starting to get maternity leave, instead of being expected to resign if they were pregnant, colleagues said.
During her 38-year career, she rose to be a close adviser to three presidents of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It’s one of 12 regional reserve banks that comprise the Federal Reserve System, which determines the nation’s monetary policy and interest rates.
“Anne Marie was an excellent economist with a tremendous amount of integrity,” said Dan Sullivan, research director at the Chicago Fed. “She brought very high standards to her work.”
Mrs. Gonczy, 72, died on Oct. 1 at her Mount Prospect home. Her husband Stephen said she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
She was responsible for briefing the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on her analyses of economic indicators, including employment rates, retail sales, housing starts and GDP — gross domestic product.
“Her role was to protect the confidentiality of that information and to distribute it to the people who were cleared” to read it, said Michael H. Moskow, a former president and CEO of the Chicago Fed. “She played a key role.”
Her research prepared him for meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee in Washington, D.C. There, presidents of the nation’s 12 Reserve Banks gather to help decide short-term interest rates, said Moskow, vice chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Mrs. Gonczy rose to be a senior economist and assistant vice president. “She was the main person who was responsible for briefing the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago,” said Jean Valerius, a retired colleague and economist.
Many times, Valerius said, “She would probably be the only woman in the room” at the briefings.
“She had a deep knowledge of key economic indicators and their implications,” said Hesna Genay, a vice president and director of policy and communications for the Chicago Fed.
Born Anne Marie Laporte in Windsor, Canada, she and her family moved to Detroit for economic opportunities, her husband said. Her father Rosaire was a civil engineer. Her mother Catherine was a nurse.
Young Anne Marie attended an all-girl high school, Dominican Catholic, where achievement was encouraged and her confidence grew, her husband said. She graduated summa cum laude from Aquinas College with a double major in economics and mathematics. Later, she earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, he said.
In 1967, she joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
She met her future husband in 1977 when both volunteered at the office of Democratic State Rep. H. Woods “Woody” Bowman, who was representing the Evanston area at the time. A materials scientist and a retired brigadier general in the Army Reserves, Stephen Gonczy appreciated her intellect. “That was one of the reasons I married her,” he said.
They wed at the Sheil Catholic Chapel on Sheridan Road in Evanston.
They raised a daughter, Teresa Gonczy O’Rourke, in Mount Prospect. When she was little, her daughter said, her mother “would always get up with me and do my hair and make me breakfast.” Weekends were special. “We would sleep in and do a special Saturday lunch,” she said.
To Mrs. Gonczy, a huge Cubs fan, her child’s wedding last year was “more important than the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series” — but not by much, her husband said.
One of Mrs. Gonczy’s most dramatic Cubs memories was of attending the 1972 game where pitcher Milt Pappas almost clinched a no-hitter, retiring 26 batters until an umpire’s call put an end to a perfect game.
After retiring in 2004, Mrs. Gonczy was able to play more bridge and spend time with a knitting circle at St. Raymond de Penafort Parish in Mount Prospect. She crafted baby clothes, teddy bears and blankets for women’s shelters and hospitals.
She enjoyed Sue Grafton’s murder mysteries and crime-solving TV shows including “Murder, She Wrote” and “NCIS,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Gonczy liked the music of ’60s folkies, especially Peter, Paul & Mary and Joan Baez.
She is also survived by her brothers, Gerald and Eugene Laporte. Services have been held.
For the last decade or so of her life, she used an oxygen concentrator to relieve her COPD. During that time, her husband became used to the sound of the machine. After her death, he has found himself missing it.
“When they took it out,” he said, “I really couldn’t believe it was that quiet in the house.”