In Memoriam: James Joseph Rakowski, Professor Emeritus of Economics

Author: Office of Internal Communications


James Joseph Rakowski died January 23, 2022 of complications of Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis.

He was born Dec. 7,1941 in Omaha, Nebraska, to Victor and Alta (Lisko) Rakowski.

He attended Creighton Prep and received a bachelor's degree in economics from Creighton University in 1963. He was a Woodrow Wilson fellow at the University of Bonn, Germany 1963-64. He received a PhD in economics from the University of Minnesota in 1967. He joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and taught economics there until his retirement in 2010.

 He will be remembered as a tough ("the Rack") but fair teacher who offered his friendship as well as his knowledge.

He taught through a Rockefeller-funded exchange program at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, 1970-71, and again at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1974-75.

On August 7, 1971, he married Catherine Bauer in Belleville IL. They were blessed with 50 years of loving companionship.  She survives, along with their six children: Ann Marie (Tom) Udale of West Roxbury MA; Mary (Tom) Kuefler of Cambridge WI; Alan (Kathryn) Rakowski of Brownsburg IN; Elizabeth (Brian) Cook of South Bend; Katie (Joshua) Schaffner of Indianapolis; and Peter (Ethel) Rakowski of Sheridan WY. Also surviving are fifteen grandchildren: Aletta and Charisma Udale; Francis, Antonia, Felicity, and Cecilia Kuefler; Jaiden Rakowski; Bernard and Charles Cook; John and George Schaffner; Elias, Joseph, James, and Augustine Rakowski. Also surviving are his sister Mary Clare (Daniel) DuBois of Arvada, CO; a number of nieces and nephews; and many cousins. He was preceded in death by his brother John.

Jim was an avid railfan and he developed friendships with other train enthusiasts throughout the country. He was a serious gardener, taking pride in the variety of vegetables he grew annually for the family. For years he raised beef cattle in the pasture, a few at a time, each one named whimsically by the kids.

His other hobbies were birdwatching, appreciating nature, and bicycling. He could often be seen riding his bicycle the twelve miles from home to campus, and in the 1990's toting a bag of clean laundry from home to campus for his children who were students there. To his pride, all six received undergraduate degrees from Notre Dame and all six received postgraduate degrees there or elsewhere. His children are thankful that he taught them through his example to be kind and patient, understanding and open-minded, but also courageous in holding firm to what is right and true. 

Arrangements are being handled by Palmer Funeral Home, Guisinger Chapel, South Bend.  Visitation will take place at Palmer Funeral Home, 3718 South Michigan Street, South Bend, on Sunday, January 30, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a Rosary prayed at 4:00.  There will also be a visitation at 10:00 a.m. on Monday January 31 at St. Jude Catholic Church followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. The Mass will be livestreamed from Interment will take place at Mount Calvary Cemetery (located at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 63568 Old U.S. 31 South, South Bend).

A second memorial service is being planned for June 15, 2022.

We wish to thank the VNA nurses of St. Joseph Health System and the nurses and staff of the Center for Hospice Care for the care and comfort they provided for Jim.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude School of South Bend, the Center for Hospice Care in Mishawaka, the Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, or St. Stephen's Indian Mission, 33 St Stephens Rd, Saint Stephens, WY 82524.

Online condolences may be offered to the Rakowski family at