A man known equally for his serious demeanor and his love for “The Mickey Mouse Club” birthday song, Edward Facey died last month. The former Hillsdale College economics professor and his wife were a major part of the college landscape from 1973 until their retirement in 1995.
Edward Facey, a student of Austrian-thought economist Ludwig von Mises and a Korean War veteran, died Aug. 16 at the age of 86, after battling several health issues. Members of the faculty said one of Facey’s greatest achievements at Hillsdale was his instrumental role in shaping the free market-focused economics department that Hillsdale houses today.
Eddie Facey Jr. ’86 said his father was a man with a high level of curiosity who held a deep love for teaching others to become well-rounded human beings.
“For my dad, he loved engendering learning in others,” Eddie Facey said. “What made him happy was seeing others mastering the material that he was teaching.”
This passion for students often led Edward Facey and his wife — Febes, a former accounting professor at Hillsdale — to welcome students into their home on the corner of Oak Street and Academy Lane for dinner, conversation, and mentoring.
Edward Facey’s love for teaching came from his own pursuit of knowledge. He received an undergraduate degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in economics and philosophy from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Facey also studied economics at the University of Chicago, before transferring to New York University to study under von Mises, eventually receiving his doctorate in economics. During this time, Facey also spent two years as a soldier in the U.S. Army, serving in the Korean War.
Perhaps the most consequential event from Edward Facey’s time studying under von Mises, however, had nothing to do with economics. It was in a von Mises class in 1962 that Facey met his future wife, an international student from the Philippines. The two married after graduation from NYU.
In 1972, then-President of Hillsdale George Roche recruited the couple, asking for Edward Facey’s help in developing a free market-based economics department. The two taught side by side at Hillsdale for 23 years.
Those who met the Faceys would have never thought they were husband and wife because Febes Facey was much more outgoing than her husband, Professor of History Tom Conner said.
Edward Facey did have a corny side, though, his son said. He always insisted on playing the Musketeers’ birthday song from the decades-long television show “The Mickey Mouse Club,” whenever a family birthday came around.
Despite the couple’s differences, however, they were a tightly knit family, Professor of Economics Gary Wolfram said.
“They really had quite a close relationship,” Wolfram said. “Their close relationship between husband and wife showed a very important part of Hillsdale.”
Their intimacy allowed the Faceys to establish a sense of community with their students, Wolfram said, something he had not previously experienced as a professor.
Edward and Febes Facey were married for 52 years. Eddie Facey said it was their devout Catholic faith that made them close. He said his mother’s prayer was always to a marry a poor man — but a good man — which she found in her husband.
Edward and Febes Facey lived in Hillsdale until 2011, when they moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, to be closer to their son and his wife.
Those years were a gift, Eddie Facey said. In 2003, his father was diagnosed with severe heart failure. On average, two-thirds of people with the condition are dead within a year, but Edward Facey refused to accept that prognosis.
“He told the doctors, ‘I want to get out of here, but I know you won’t let me,’” Eddie Facey said. “So he asked, ‘What do I have to do for you to let me out?’ He had an attitude of ‘I am going to get better. Tell me what I need to do, and I will do it.’”
It was with this kind of determination and passion that Edward Facey pursued all of the things he held dear.
Eddie Facey said although academia was important to his father, he never failed to prioritize the important things: faith, family, and Cleveland athletics. He was, perhaps, most happy when he had the chance to intertwine them — in a father-son tradition of watching the Cleveland Browns together.
“Pretty much every Sunday at 10 a.m., we would be there, watching some really bad football together. There was something about Dad and I and this really bad team,” Eddie Facey chuckled. “Last Sunday was the first time I sat with an empty chair next to me, and although my wife did come sit with me awhile, it’s not the same without him. It just isn’t.”
Edward Facey leaves behind his wife, his son, and his daughter, Betty Facey ’86.
And at Hillsdale, his memory lives on in the students, especially those with a passion for Austrian economics.
“He was one of the cornerstones of the economic program, as it began its expansion to one of the largest majors on campus,” Wolfram said.