E. Scott Maynes and Stewart M. Lee


Remembering Luminary Leaders Stewart M. Lee and E. Scott Maynes, An essay by Brenda J. Cude

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Remembering Luminary Leaders Stewart M. Lee and E. Scott Maynes

By Brenda J. Cude University of Georgia, Associate Editor of JCA

The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2008. Complete issue available at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/joca/42/1

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."
— Thomas Campbell

ACCI lost two notable leaders last year — E. Scott Maynes and Stewart M. Lee — whose significant and unique contributions created a lasting legacy for our profession.

Stewart M. Lee, professor emeritus of economics at Geneva College, died on July 31, 2007. Stewart is perhaps best remembered for his passionate belief that consumers’ lot in the marketplace can be vastly improved through education and advocacy. Stewart co-authored a widely used and well regarded consumer economics textbook, first with Leland Gordon (Gordon and Lee 1972) and later with Mel Zelenak (Lee and Zelenak 1982). In addition to serving as a member of the Consumers Union Board of Directors, he was appointed to several government panels, including the President’s Consumer Advisory Council and President Nixon’s Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy. Between 1963 and 1983, Stewart was a visiting professor of consumer economics during the summers at 19 colleges and universities.

Stewart’s service to ACCI was remarkable and recognized in two ways – he was named a Distinguished Fellow in 1977 and in 1998 the organization created the Stewart M. Lee Consumer Education Award. Stewart was a past president of the organization, and, most significantly, the editor of the organization’s newsletter. Stewart produced this publication monthly (from September through May), which contained “brief annotations and availability information for consumer resources including books, articles and audio-visual materials (Makela, Stein, and Uhl 1979, p. 123) for 30 years (from 1959 to 1989). In a survey, 97% of respondents rated Stewart’s ACCI Newsletter as having some or much usefulness; nearly 60% said they shared the information in the newsletter with colleagues, other professionals, and students.

E. Scott Maynes, professor emeritus in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, died on June 24, 2007. As an academician, Scott was perhaps best known for “the perfect information frontier,” a parsimonious and graphical representation of the potential gains to consumers of information search. He passionately advocated for Local Consumer Information Systems (Maynes 2003, p. 206; Maynes et al. 1977), “institutions that would collect and disseminate accurate price and quality information for many products in local markets.” Many of his colleagues used Scott’s (Maynes 1976) consumer economics textbook and the concept of a perfect information frontier in teaching consumer economics. Keith Bryant (Bryant 1993), who presented Scott as an ACCI Distinguished Fellow in 1993, cited Scott’s book as well as his edited volume of research papers from the Wingspread Conference (Maynes and American Council on Consumer Interests Research Committee 1988) as particularly influential. His contributions to ACCI included membership on the ACCI Board of Directors and the editorial board of JCA, chair of the research and membership committees, and organizer of and participant in many ACCI annual conference sessions (Bryant 1993). He was influential nationally as well as internationally as his work furthered the consumer interest, serving in various roles with Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America as well as designing several consumer surveys in India and Argentina.

Sherman Hanna (Hanna n.d.) described Scott as “the ideal consumer…, the rational Consumer Reports reader, frustrated at not being able to get enough information to make the optimal choice.” Reflecting a different but complementary approach, Stewart was more optimistic, convinced that the quality of most consumer markets would improve greatly if only consumers would let sellers know when a product is not what it should be. A JCA article he wrote in 1968 was a series of letters written to sellers and their responses (Lee 1968). It is a portrait of a young man with a wife and baby who expects much of a consumer market and lets sellers know when he is disappointed.

Although very different in many ways, Scott and Stewart shared a gentle grace and good humor that belied the passion and ferocity of their desire to further the interests of consumers. While they will be missed, their ideas will live on in their written works and the students and colleagues, including me, whom they influenced.


Bryant, W. Keith. 1993. Distinguished Fellow of the American Council on Consumer Interests: E. Scott Maynes. Journal of Consumer Affairs 27 (2):209-211.

Gordon, Leland J., and Stewart M. Lee. 1972. Economics for Consumers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Hanna, Sherman D. n.d. Scott Maynes’ Perfect Information Frontier, October 29, 2007 http://hec.osu.edu/people/shanna/maynesPIF.htm.

Lee, Stewart M. 1968. A Consumer Writes for Consumer Rights. Journal of Consumer Affairs 2 (2):212-222.

Lee, Stewart M., and Mel J. Zelenak. 1982. Economics for Consumers. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publications.

Makela, Carole J., Karen Stein, and Joseph N. Uhl. 1979. The American Council on Consumer Interests: Its Activities and Future Development. Journal of Consumer Affairs 13 (1):117-127.

Maynes, E. Scott. 1976. Decision-Making for Consumers: An Introduction to Consumer Economics. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.

———. 2003. Marketing — One Consumer Disaster. Journal of Consumer Affairs 37 (2):196-207.

Maynes, E. Scott, and American Council on Consumer Interests Research Committee. 1988. The Frontier of Research in the Consumer Interest. Columbia, MO: American Council on Consumer Interests.

Maynes, E. Scott, James N. Morgan, Weston Vivian, and Greg J. Duncan. 1977. The Local Consumer Information System: An Institution-to-Be. Journal of Consumer Affairs 11 (1):17-33.

Editorial Prelude (Available online at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1745-6606.2007.00100.x)