Harold Bierman Jr.

June 17, 1924February 12, 2021

Harold Bierman, Jr., 96, died on February 12, 2021 at Arbor Landing, in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.

Harold (Hal) was born in New York City, the second child to his parents Harold and Frieda (Zelezny) Bierman. A successful scholar and athlete, Hal earned a commission to the United States Naval Academy from which he graduated in 1945. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy through the end of World War II and returned for a second tour of duty in South Korea during the early years of the Korean War.

Between his service in the two wars Hal earned an MBA from the University of Michigan in 1949. Subsequently, in 1955 he completed a Ph.D. in Business Administration also from Michigan. Far more importantly, in 1952 he married his wife of 69 years, Florence Merwin Kelso. Seldom apart for nearly seven decades, Harold and Florence leaned on each other, grew with each other, and loved each other in rare and inspirational ways.

Dr. Bierman’s professional career was centered at the Samuel Curtis Johnson School Graduate School of Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. There he served for 59 years as a professor of finance, accounting and management where he taught and mentored thousands of students. In 1961 he was awarded the Nicholas H. Noyes Chaired Professorship of Business Administration and in 2010 the Harold Bierman Jr., Distinguished Professorship of Management, which was established in his honor by grateful alumni. There have been few business educators with as broad and deep an impact as his.

His professional accomplishments include scores of articles and dozens of books the most famous of which is The Capital Budgeting Decision co-authored with Seymour Smidt and first published in 1966 (the ninth edition of which was published in 2007). In this and many other venues, Hal’s most significant achievement was developing and championing a road map to evaluate the merits of different investment options whether in private business, the public sector, or for individuals. These are tools used by nearly every organization on a daily basis. So common are their applications that they have transcended the need for attribution to their key developer.

In 2001, after having served for years as an advisor to the development of the business program at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, Dr. Bierman received from the University an honorary Doctor of Law (LL.D) degree.

Always a teacher, Hal spent years as coach to his four sons’ youth baseball and basketball teams. Hundreds of Ithaca youth benefitted from his generous commitment to their growth and development. With a keen ear for an original aphorism, Ithaca’s youth regularly heard Coach Bierman tell them that “every game is a lesson and every lesson a victory.” As his sons moved on to high school sports, Hal and Florence crisscrossed the southern tier of upstate New York multiple times per week for well over a decade cheering on myriad Ithaca High School Teams.

Hal loved the New York Times, Sal’s Pizza, Wegmans, the New York Giants, theater, Cornell University, education of all forms, Ocean Isle Beach, and his family. He loved Florence most of all.

Hal will be missed by his family. He is survived by his wife Florence, his sons Jim (Ellen) Bierman, Scott (Melody) Bierman, Bruce (Krista) Bierman, and Jonathan (Catherine) Bierman. He has eleven loving grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Bierman family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Harold Bierman Jr, Distinguished Professorship of Management at Cornell University. Gifts may be made online at or mailed to Cornell University, Box 37334, Boone, IA 50037-0334. Online condolences may be offered at

A private memorial service for the family is being planned.

White Funeral and Cremation Service, 3660 Express Dr. Shallotte, NC


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Harold Bierman Jr.

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Tamar (Tammy) Tolentino (Smidt)

February 21, 2021

Dear Florence and family,

I feel strangely not saying Mrs. Bierman, I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Bierman's passing. My father, Seymour Smidt, was surely one of your husband's greatest fans. He had so much respect for him as a teacher and colleague. I remember that they did not always agree on things but could always have lively and frank discussions. I know that my dad felt that your husband kept him on task, kept him accountable when they were writing together. Writing the Capital Budgeting books together with Mr. Bierman was one of the proudest cooperative accomplishments in my father's career. As my father aged his conversations with Hal were so very precious, often the highlight of his day.
You both are like family, Ithaca and Cornell are synonymous with the Biermans and all the faculty of the Business School that my parents were so close with. I thank you for being there when my mother died, visiting when my father went through health challenges, for offering your support.
Sending love with fond memories of family visits (and your handsome sons). Florence you have always been so kind to me. I wish you all comfort at this sad, sad time. Mr. Bierman's memory will always be a blessing.

Tamar (Tammy Smidt) Tolentino

Don Schnedeker

February 20, 2021

Dear Florence and family,
I hope that you are all doing well. On occasion, I had the pleasure of working with Hal. He was always welcoming and accepting my meager contributions. He got to know my family, second hand, through our frequent ‘soup’ lunches. At lunch, he directly provided much need advice to my daughter and my son. I really appreciated his kind hearted interventions. To date, neither child has needed this advice. But, they both remember him fondly!

Robert Brandes

February 20, 2021

I was fortunate to have “Bierman” for my first finance MBA class in 1983. After learning about Net Present Value (NPV) from Professor Bierman, I was so inspired by the way he explained finance that it became my major! I had several memorable professors during my two years at the Johnson School - but Professor Bierman is at the top of my list. He will be fondly remembered forever... MBA (84)

Rob Hoskin

February 20, 2021

So sorry to hear about Hal's passing. He was such a wonderful mentor for lots of folks and I was fortunate to have had him for at least one course as a PhD student. He was such a prolific scholar and a wonderful person on top of that. My thoughts are with his family and I feel fortunate to have known him. RIP

Dan Garton

February 20, 2021

As an undergrad at Stanford I don't think I ever met a Professor. At the Johnson school they became my friends. But none more so than Hal. He was so "available " and open to discuss everything from school , to job opportunities to family matters.
He had sort of crummy handwriting , especially on overhead slides but he taught the true fundamentals of finance. Once you learned the concepts he taught , you could unravel anything from an aircraft lease to a derivative on soy beans.
Early in my career I came back to school and helped teach a few case studies related to the airline industry. My only wish now is that I had come back to see him more often.
Florence, Barb and I also truly loved your Christmas cards because they emphasized how significant and important your family was to Hal.
He was a wonderful teacher, mentor and friend. ... Dan Garton, MBA 1984

Beth wilcox

February 19, 2021

Please relay my deepest condolences to Florence.

I greatly enjoyed their visits to the Terrace Restaurant every weekend in the early 1990s. I was the restaurant manager there at the time. Mr. Bierman was pivotal in my matriculating to the hotel school and completing my degree. He was even kind enough to write a recommendation letter for my application. I have been an instructor at the hotel school for the past 10 years and I think of him and his encouragement often. He saw the potential that I didn't know I had. Deepest sympathy to your entire family.

Clifford Nancarrow

February 19, 2021

Good afternoon,
While assigned as an instructor at the Cornell University NROTC Unit from June 1978 - December, 1980, I was privileged to concurrently pursue and complete a MBA at the Johnson School. During the course of my degree program, Dr. Bierman served as both an instructor and informal mentor. I remain deeply in his debt. I have continued to retain this textbook on my shelf in an honored position. Please accept my gratitude and most sincere condolences.

Clifford A. Nancarrow '81, CPA
Captain, United States Navy (Retired)

John Fisher

February 19, 2021

John Fisher, JGSM 1996

My sincere condolences to the Bierman family, what a great man who impacted so many lives. I wanted to share a fond memory that encapsulates Professor Bierman's quick wit and ability to recognize and motivate students.

In my first year, someone organized a Professors vs. Student pick up basketball game . I was recruited on the student team. Professor Bierman was on the Professor's team, and as I was a point guard we squared off a few times on the court. At one point in the second half as I drove, scored and as I was jogging back on defense - Professor Bierman from the sideline yells out in his classic voice:

"Mrrrrrr. Fissshhherrr, now I see where you wasted your yoouuuthh, not in the classroom but on the courts....."

A backhanded complement but also highlighting that I needed to pick it up in his classroom.

After the game he spent a fair amount of time asking me about my high school and college basketball career in the Rochester, NY area. I learned about his passion for the sport and his time coaching his sons and youth teams in the Ithaca area.

I am always indebted to Professor Bierman for solidifying my interest in finance which has led to the foundational aspects of my career since graduating. Thank you for everything, you will be missed, but not forgotten!

Leslie Schott

February 18, 2021

Professor Bierman had a major impact on my life as a business school student. I remember being completely intimidated by his class and his reputation. Great Finance professor, really hard class. I was determined to do well, which meant a lot of time spent in office hours. This allowed me to get to know Professor Bierman on a personal level and grew to love the twinkle in his eye when I eventually understood an important concept. As a result of all of my visits, a friendship developed and I learned he loved tennis. The end of my first year, we had planned to play tennis together after finals were over. However, the night before our scheduled game, my now husband, proposed to me. I called Professor Bierman to let him know (I think he was the first to know the news) I probably wouldn’t make it. He was very excited for me and told me not to worry, but I was sad we never ended up on the court together. When I graduated a year later, he was instrumental in nominating me for the Kelso award, which I now know was named after his wife making it even more special. He believed in me and that was so important to a young student like myself. I am sure there are many students like me that he made a lasting impact on and that truly equals a very special person. He will be truly missed and I am so very sorry for your loss, but he is someone who really made a difference in this world. I feel very fortunate to have had him as a professor and to have known him. Leslie Tatlow Schott

James McKenzie

February 18, 2021

He was the best! James McKenzie, MBA 1965,