We recently celebrated 25 years of FRED, and several posts have looked back at the origins and the originators of the St. Louis Fed’s data services. One person we haven’t mentioned yet in this blog is Bob Rasche. He was the St. Louis Fed’s director of research from January 1999 until 2009, when he was promoted to executive vice president and senior policy advisor. He retired in June 2011.
Bob, who was one of the most vocal and dedicated advocates of delivering high-quality data and information to the public, passed away Thursday, June 2. He is survived by his wife, Dottie, and children, Jeanette and Karl.
One of Bob’s legacies is that he expanded and enhanced FRED at a key moment in its history. He made a compelling case to the Bank’s president and its senior leaders, as well as leaders around the Federal Reserve System, that this mission of public service should continue and thrive. During Bob’s tenure, FRED grew in both size (from under 1,000 series to over 33,000) and recognition. FRED’s global presence and notoriety helped promote other efforts. In fact, Bob envisioned and nurtured a realm of St. Louis Fed data services, including FRED’s sibling sites, GeoFRED and ALFRED, and FRASER, the historical digital archive. He was sincere and energetic, and his process was legendary: He would arrive at work early in the morning, passionately describe the ideas that had occurred to him overnight, and a new project was born.
Bob hired and guided many of the people who are now integral to the development and success of the St. Louis Fed’s data services. The FRED and FRASER teams continue their mission with respect and gratitude for Bob Rasche’s leadership. It was an honor to work for him. It is inspiring to remember him.