Gil Crain
Gil Crain 1947-2008

By Bonita Peterson Kramer

It is with heavy hearts that we report long-time former MSU Associate Professor of Accounting Gil Crain passed away on July 1, 2008, due to complications from his treatment for multiple myeloma. Gil taught at MSU for 33 years, from 1974-2007, when he left MSU and took a faculty position at the University of Illinois at Springfield. His expertise was in governmental accounting, an area in which he taught both the required undergraduate course and an elective graduate course that he developed. He also taught a variety of other accounting courses at MSU, including intermediate financial accounting, accounting information systems, a graduate course on accounting research and both principles of financial accounting classes. Beyond MSU, he taught CPE courses on governmental/not-for-profit accounting throughout Montana and in other states.

Gil was very active for many years in various other facets of the governmental and non-profit accounting community. He served, since 1994, on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) based out of Connecticut. Since June 1997, Gil served as the main editor for the Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update, a monthly newsletter published by Warren, Gorham and Lamont/RIA Group. His publications included articles in Governmental Finance, the Governmental Accountant's Journal and the Journal of Accountancy. (See for an article he co-authored that was inspired by MSU's accounting program)

Gil was heavily involved in the formation of the MSU Accounting Advisory Council in 2004, and he considered the establishment of the Council - comprised of several outstanding accounting alums from across the country - to be among his greatest accomplishments at MSU.

Born February 15, 1947, in Champaign, Illinois, Gil grew up in the Chicago suburb of Monee, Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. After working for the public accounting firm of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells in Chicago, Gil went on to earn a master's in accounting from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Gil was an avid outdoorsman who spent countless hours exploring the Montana and Yellowstone backcountry. Around 2001, Gil began serving as a volunteer in the Tower Ranger District of Yellowstone National Park, helping to map invasive plant outbreaks and manage the park's infamous "bear jams." You can see and hear Gil speaking of his love for this volunteer work at:

No description of Gil would be complete without mention of his affection for fast cars, auto racing and fine cabernet.

Survivors include his two children, both of whom Gil spoke of often with great pride: Amy Crain of Texas and Andy Crain of Oregon, two brothers, Phil and Tim, both of Florida; a sister, Debra Anthony of Illinois, and several uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. Gil's first grandchild, a boy, is due shortly before Christmas.

A Web site has been set up in remembrance of Gil and all who knew Gil are encouraged to read his journal postings as well as the guestbook entries by his friends, family, colleagues and former students at On the Web site, details are provided for the memorial with the Nature Conservancy established by Gil's family in his honor.

Gil always had a way with words. So, in his own words from his June 18, 2008, Caring Bridge Web site posting, his reflection on his life:

"…The accountant in me made me do a personal, non-monetary balance sheet of sorts--the good and bad, strengths and weaknesses, things I was proud of along with the regrets I had. I quickly realized that I had had an amazing ride so far. Way more "assets" than "liabilities" to be really metaphorical! Here are just a few of what I list as assets in my life record:

First, I never expected the MSU Accounting program to become a nationally and even internationally recognized program when I first arrived in 1974. I was too excited to be living in MT to imagine what was to develop over the subsequent 30 years. I never anticipated the College of Business would develop into such a powerhouse of talent. But, those things did occur and I am proud to have been along for the ride, hopefully helping in some small degree.

I also had no idea in 1974 of how friendly and loyal the MSU accounting students would be. Yes, most knew how to play pretty hard--whether that be skiing, fly fishing, shooting elk, or draining beers at the R-bar. Some of the post-CPA exam parties were of epic proportions and provided me a ton of memories of fun times with students that very few other MSU professors can even imagine. As the sign-ins to my blog clearly show, so many of these students still remain concerned of my well-being, I am humbled. All their friendships are priceless for me!

I never expected to achieve the professional recognition in the governmental accounting specialty that I did. Some steady efforts and a couple lucky breaks and the next thing I know I am regularly working closely with the members and staff of the Governmental Accounting Standard Board in CT--and I am proud to call all of them my friends besides being my professional colleagues. I am proud to have contributed in my small way to a few of the many successes the Board has achieved since 1994 when I first started working with it.

And, then there are the years of my volunteer work in Yellowstone. Four years wandering the backcountry looking for weed patches and seeing sight, animals and artifacts that few if any one else ever got to see. Three years of working with the Tower District Rangers to control "bear jams" and keep the bears safe from people as much as possible. I awoke to my spiritual side of life in these seven years and am longing desperately to return to Tower as soon as I am thru this little challenge. My memories of Goldilocks and her cubs from last summer and of my wonderful friends there are important parts of my strength to persevere against my cancer.

Last but certainly not least, my immediate family has provided me with true joy in my life. Amy and Andy grew into their own unique personalities and, as adults, are two of my best friends. They are both married to wonderful spouses whom have added additional joy to my life.

So, the point is that it became very clear to me that while I wasn't exactly excited to hear I had cancer, I did have to admit that, in the big picture, I didn't have room for much complaining--regardless of what was to come. I have had so much that if Fate does decide to 'call me home' soon, I know I can go with a pretty damn impressive history…"

Gil is loved dearly by many, and will be sorely missed. There are no words to adequately express the loss of this professor, mentor and friend.