April 13, 1995
Vol. 14, No. 15

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    Obituary: Mary Petrie

    Mary Petrie, who as chief investment officer for the University helped to more than triple the value of its endowment, died April 9 in her Downers Grove home. She was 72.

    Hanna Gray, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor in History, who was President of the University while Petrie was Treasurer, said, "Mary made an enormous contribution to the University through her thoroughly professional approach to investing. We owe a great deal to her. She was a wonderful person who was deeply committed to the University."

    At the time of her appointment as Treasurer in 1974, Petrie held the highest-level administrative post occupied by a woman at a major private research university in the country. She championed the advancement of women in the workplace and demonstrated that advancement through her own career. She began working at the University as a secretary in 1942 and pursued a degree in business while employed here. She received her M.B.A. from Chicago in 1956.

    Petrie was named Senior Security Analyst for the University that same year and was elected Assistant Treasurer in 1966. She was elected Associate Treasurer in 1973 and Treasurer in 1974. She was also treasurer of the Baptist Theological Union, which is affiliated with the Divinity School.

    "Upon becoming Treasurer, she set it as her goal to double the University's endowment," said her brother, Paul Petrie, Director of Real Estate Operations for the University.

    Mary Petrie exceeded her goal. The endowment, which was $195 million at the time of her appointment, had grown to $656 million by the time of her retirement in 1986. The increase was attributed in part to an investment strategy guided by Petrie.

    Petrie was active in professional organizations, and in 1970 she became the first woman elected president of Chicago's Investment Analyst Society. She later was president of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts.

    During her career, she was also on the board of numerous corporations, including the Chicago Title and Trust Company, Chicago Title Insurance Company, Empire Gas Corporation, Harris Bankcorp Inc., Harris Trust and Savings Bank, McCain Manufacturing Corporation, Peoples Energy Corporation and Wausau Insurance Companies.

    In recognition of her accomplishments, Petrie received the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago's Outstanding Achievement Award in Business in 1982.

    In addition to her brother Paul, she is survived by two nieces and a nephew.