Wilma Krebs, a pioneering Sacramento State economics professor who was an outspoken advocate for university faculty and retirees, died July 10 of Alzheimer's disease, her family said. She was 91.
There were few women teaching at California State University, Sacramento, when Dr. Krebs joined the economics faculty in 1959 as a part-time teacher. She became a full-time professor in 1966 and helped develop courses in public finance and fiscal policy.
She formally retired in 1983 but continued teaching part time until 1990. Many of her students went on to key positions in state government, including the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Department of Finance.
Dr. Krebs also was active in California State University faculty organizations before and after retirement. She was president of a women's group at CSUS during the 1960s and represented professors in grievance proceedings. As vice president and legislative committee chairwoman, she represented the CSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association at the state Capitol for almost 20 years until 2006.
"She was always interested in fairness and justice and women's rights," said her husband, Robert. "But she could get along with anyone. She always said that cooperation between various factions is the way to get things done."
Dr. Krebs became an expert on Medicare and senior issues during retirement. She led an advisory committee on long-term care insurance for the California Public Employees' Retirement System. She assisted seniors on Medicare issues as a volunteer for the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.
A Canadian native, the former Wilma Smith was a high achiever who was chosen to represent her school at the 1937 coronation of British King George VI, her family said. Born in 1920 in New Westminster, British Columbia, she played field hockey growing up with three elder brothers and did well in math.
She earned a full scholarship to study economics and graduated from University of British Columbia. She received a teaching fellowship at UC Berkeley, where she later earned a doctorate in economics, and taught for several years at University of California, Los Angeles, before moving to Sacramento.
She had two children during a marriage to Richard Mayers that ended in divorce. She traveled to many countries with her husband of 40 years, Robert, including a 1977 trip they took to India as Fulbright scholars. She lived in an assisted living home in Santa Rosa since 2009.
Dr. Krebs was a former president of the Sacramento chapter of the League of Woman Voters. She was an intellectually independent woman who joined a book club and took up photography in later years. She was active in politics and practiced yoga and attended plays and other events with a group of close friends.
"She was the type of person who was interested in many different fields," said a friend, Jo Lonan. "She had a broad view of the world and life in general."