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Dividend Spring 2013 : Page 6

Remembering Frederick A. Erb, BBA ’47, 1923-2013 Benefactor and businessman leaves enduring legacy through the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise Frederick A. Erb, BBA ’47 , the businessman and philanthropist who funded the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, died Jan. 10, 2013, at the age of 89. After a successful business career, Erb and his wife, Barbara Erb , made a gift to their alma mater that created the pioneering Erb Institute, a center of thought leadership and home to a joint degree program between the Ross School and U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. “Fred has been a great friend to both the university and the Ross School, and we mourn his passing,” says Dean Alison Davis-Blake . “He and Barbara had a desire to create a better future for their children and grandchildren, and their vision created a program that exemplifies a core value of the Ross School — using knowledge and the power of business to make the world a better place.” Born Feb. 11, 1923, in Royal Oak, Mich., Erb attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., then went on to Cornell University. In 1942, he transferred to the University of Michigan, where he met Barbara. Erb had joined the Army Enlisted Reserve when World War II broke out, and was called to active duty in June 1943. He and Barbara married after the war, and he resumed his education at U-M. Erb switched from engineering to business and earned his BBA degree with honors in August 1947. After graduation, Erb took over his uncle’s lumber and coal business in Royal Oak. Starting with seven employees, one store, and sales of about $170,000, Erb grew sales to $300,000 the next year and to $1 million the following year. By the 1970s, Erb Lumber became the largest supplier of lumber in Michigan. When he sold the business in 1993, it was a multistate enterprise with 45 locations, 1,300 employees, and $280 million in sales (none of which was coal). Until his retirement, Erb was active in real estate development and management, including Edgemere Enterprises in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. In 1996, after years of philanthropic giving, the Erbs made one of their first major gifts to the University of Michigan to support the founding of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. “The legacy that Fred and Barbara have left through their family, accomplishments, and philanthropy is a testament to a life well-lived,” says Andy Hoffman , director of the Erb Institute, Holcim (U.S.) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, and professor of management and organizations. “I am especially grateful for the impact that the Erbs have had on hundreds of students at the University of Michigan.” “The Erb Institute is a legacy unlike any other in the world — a community of capable and passionate people devoted to leaving the world a better place than they found it,” says Tom Lyon , the Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology, and Commerce, professor of business economics, and former director of the Erb Institute. “In this, students, faculty, and business partners perfectly mirror the values Fred and Barbara have instilled in their own children.” In 2007, the Erbs established the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation to nurture environmentally friendly and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit, and to support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes Basin. In addition to Barbara, Erb is survived by four children, four grandchildren, and his younger brother. — Terry Kosdrosky 6 DIVIDEND SPRING 2013

Tappan & Hill // Remembering Frederick A. Erb

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