Miguel Civil

Miguel Civil (1926–2019), professor emeritus of Sumerology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute, was the world’s leading scholar of the Sumerian language. (Photography by Gonzalo Rubio)

University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni deaths.

Faculty and staff

Eric P. Hamp, the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Psychology, and the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World, died February 17 in Traverse City, MI. He was 98. A World War II US Army veteran who became a leading historical linguist, Hamp was an authority on the development of languages in the Indo-European family, especially Albanian and the Celtic branch, and of such Native American languages as Ojibwa and Quileute. He began teaching at UChicago in 1950, chaired the Department of Linguistics from 1966 to 1969, and directed the Center for Balkan and Slavic Studies from 1965 until his retirement in 1991. Coeditor of the textbook Readings in Linguistics II (1966), he published thousands of articles on historical linguistics. His honors included a commemorative stamp from Albania’s postal service and several honorary doctorates. He is survived by his wife, Margot (Faust) Hamp, AB’42; a daughter, Julijana H. Love, LAB’79; a son, Alexander Hamp, LAB’85; and six grandchildren.

Miguel Civil, professor emeritus of Sumerology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute, died January 13 in Chicago. He was 92. Civil was the world’s leading scholar of the Sumerian language. He joined the Oriental Institute in 1963 and  over the next four decades pioneered translation methods that helped illuminate Mesopotamian civilization and resurrect a large body of Sumerian literature. Epigrapher of the Nippur Expedition, he created databases to synthesize the Sumerian written record from far-flung cuneiform tablets, reconstructing and translating agricultural, medical, and other kinds of texts, including a hymn used as the recipe for a craft brewery’s 1989 re-creation of Sumerian beer. Serving on the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary’s editorial board, he also published numerous volumes in the series Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon. He is survived by his wife, Isabel Martin Mansilla; two daughters; two sisters; a brother; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Frank E. Reynolds, AM’63, PhD’71, professor emeritus of the history of religions and Buddhist studies, of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, died January 8. He was 88. An ordained Baptist minister, Reynolds was program director at Thailand’s Student Christian Center before he became a graduate student in the Divinity School. In 1967 he joined UChicago’s faculty, with appointments in both the Divinity School and the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. A leading scholar in the North American academic reception of Theravada Buddhism, he published, with his late wife, Mani Bloch, a translation of the 14th-century text Three Worlds According to King Ruang: A Thai Buddhist Cosmology (1982). In 2010 he received the Norman Maclean Faculty Award for his teaching and mentorship. He is survived by his partner, June C. Nash, AM’53, PhD’60; three sons; and nine grandchildren.

Ting-Wa Wong, MD’57, PhD’70, associate professor of pathology at UChicago Medicine, died January 4 in Chicago. She was 86. An expert in endocrine pathology and mammalian spermatogenesis, Wong began teaching at UChicago in 1961 and spent the rest of her career on the faculty. She coordinated the Pritzker School of Medicine’s general and cellular pathology course, taught clinical pathophysiology for decades, and developed an accelerated histology course for predoctoral medical scientists. Recognized for her dedication to mentoring Pritzker students, she was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, was an inaugural member of the UChicago Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators, and became the namesake of a scholarship for exceptional pathology students.

Thomas A. Nagylaki, professor emeritus of ecology and evolution, died February 10. He was 75. Trained as a physicist, Nagylaki did research at the University of Colorado and taught at Oregon State University before switching fields to medical genetics and working in James F. Crow’s laboratory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he began specializing in population genetics. In 1975 he joined UChicago’s faculty in biophysics and theoretical biology, moving in 1984 to the molecular genetics and cell biology department and in 1989 to ecology and evolution. He also held an appointment on the Committee on Genetics, Genomics, and Systems Biology. Among other publications, he wrote two biomathematics textbooks, including Introduction to Theoretical Population Genetics (1992).


Alfred J. Kahn, SB’40, PhD’43, MD’44, of Santa Barbara, CA, died October 25. He was 98. After serving as an internist and a chief of psychiatry in the US Army, Kahn entered private practice as an internist in Chicago and went on to become chief of Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital’s spinal cord injury service. Following his career in clinical medicine, he did research on epigenetics, developmental physiology, and alcohol addiction. He is survived by a son, James M. Kahn, AB’70, MD’74; and three grandchildren. 

Marshall Bennett, AB’42, died October 13 in Chicago. He was 97. A World War II US Navy veteran and a leading commercial real estate developer, Bennett helped establish the modern industrial park through such projects as the Centex Industrial Park in Elk Grove Village, IL. He later expanded his business to include office brokerage, syndication, and pension fund advising. Founder of Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, he also cofounded the Chicago Ten, an interfaith group of business leaders promoting Middle East peace. He is survived by his wife, Arlene, and two daughters.

Priscilla Thomson Jackson, EX’43, died September 6 in Rutland, VT. She was 96. Moving to Detroit in 1943, Jackson and her late husband cofounded the city’s branch of the Congress of Racial Equality. After joining Oakland University’s adult education department as a conference director, she became the first director of the school’s Continuum Center, an adult education program for women, and an assistant dean. She later designed programs for professional women at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. She is survived by two daughters, a son, and a brother.

Ken E. Nordine, EX’43, died February 16 in Chicago. He was 98. A radio broadcaster, voice-over talent, and sound artist, Nordine began his first stint at Chicago station WBEZ in 1938, returning later to develop and host the long-running program Word Jazz, a mix of spoken word, jazz, and sound design based on live performances he started giving at Chicago music clubs in 1956. His “word jazz” concept spun off into four album releases and collaborations with such musicians as the Grateful Dead and Laurie Anderson. A former announcer for Chicago radio station WBBM, he made radio and television commercials for Levi’s, Magnavox, and the Chicago Blackhawks. He is survived by three sons, including Kenneth E. Nordine Jr., MBA’97; a sister; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Herbert N. Leavitt, AA’46, of Northlake, IL, died January 6. He was 99. A World War II US Navy Air Corps veteran, Leavitt later earned certifications in transportation and traffic management and interstate commerce law. He worked for several Chicagoland trucking companies, including Pacific Intermountain Express (later PIE Nationwide), Suburban Motor Freight, and Dohrn Transfer. Leavitt was a member of a Cook County school district board and served a term as president. Survivors include two sons, six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Adelina L. Lust Diamond, AB’47, died January 16 in Chicago. She was 91. Diamond worked as a sportswear writer for Women’s Wear Daily and as an editor of the Hyde Park Herald. With a master’s in public administration, she served as a public relations consultant for UChicago, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Children’s Defense Fund. Her husband, Edwin Diamond, PhB’47, AM’49, died in 1997. She is survived by her partner, Joseph Mann; three daughters, including Ellen Diamond, AB’73; a brother, Herbert C. Lust, AM’48; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Marjorie Howard Orem, AB’48, of Kennebunkport, ME, and Potomac, MD, died October 30. She was 89. Formerly an editor and executive secretary, Orem later worked as a paralegal, studied property law, and became a licensed Realtor. Devoted to her family as a military spouse and active in the military community, she served as an advocate through the National Military Family Association. She is survived by her husband, John; a daughter; two sons; and eight grandchildren.

Erroll F. Rhodes, PhD’48, died November 24. He was 94. Born to missionary parents in Japan, Rhodes returned to the country after earning his doctorate in divinity and, as an Episcopal missionary himself, taught Christian studies for 15 years at Rikkyo University. In 1967 he moved back to the United States and became resident biblical scholar at the American Bible Society. An expert in the history of scriptural transmission and translation, Rhodes wrote, edited, and translated numerous works of textual scholarship on the Bible. He is survived by his wife, Martha; two daughters; a son, E. Allen Rhodes, AB’77; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

David H. Shaftman, SB’48, SM’49, of Naperville, IL, died November 16. He was 94. Shaftman worked as a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory and was a longtime member of the American Mathematical Society. An avid singer, he was passionate about music, art, and nature. He is survived by four daughters and two grandchildren.

Louis P. River III, PhB’49, died October 17 in Chicago. He was 88. River served as a US Air Force captain and surgeon before becoming chief of surgery and chief of staff at Oak Park Hospital (now a partner of Rush University Medical Center). He was a fellow of the International College of Surgeons and a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, retiring in 1985. Active in civil rights, he promoted racial integration in Oak Park, IL. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Rivet-River; four daughters, including Laura River, AB’79; three sons, including L. Philip River IV, AB’79, AM’96, PhD’06; a brother, George L. River, AB’52; and 11 grandchildren.


Walter “Chick” H. Holtkamp Jr., AB’51, of Cleveland, died August 27. He was 89. A US Navy veteran, Holtkamp joined his family’s business, the Holtkamp Organ Company, and served as president from 1962 until his retirement in 1997. Leading one of the country’s oldest pipe organ manufacturers, he designed and built instruments for the Cleveland Institute of Music, Union Theological Seminary, the Juilliard School, and hundreds of churches and schools. He is survived by his wife, Karen; three sons; a stepdaughter; and seven grandchildren.

Felix F. Loeb Jr., AB’51, died March 22, 2018, in Chesterton, IN. He was 88. Loeb did graduate work in biology at UChicago and, with an MD from Harvard Medical School, spent his career practicing psychiatry and psychoanalysis. With his wife, Loretta, he coauthored the sexuality case studies in Helping Men: A Psychoanalytic Approach (2012). He is survived by two sons, Felix F. Loeb III, AB’81, and Jeffrey A. Loeb, AB’82, SM’82, PhD’87, MD’89; and two grandchildren.

Elias M. Stein, AB’51, SM’53, PhD’55, died December 23 in Somerville, NJ. He was 87. After teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serving as an assistant professor of mathematics at UChicago from 1958 to 1963, Stein joined Princeton University’s faculty, retiring in 2012. An expert in harmonic analysis, he did research that became groundwork for compressing sound and image data and charting stock markets and gravitational waves. His honors included the National Medal of Science and the American Mathematical Society’s Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement. He is survived by his wife, Elly; a daughter; a son; a brother; and three grandchildren.

Armando Gene Ferrari, AB’52, of Morristown, NJ, died August 23. He was 88. Ferrari worked as an engineer at Western Electric’s Engineering Research Center and managed the company’s corporate data center before joining AT&T, where he became director of international engineering. He held patents for his work on wire coatings and insulation. He is survived by his wife, Joen Luy; a daughter; two sons; a brother, Joseph G. Ferrari, AB’50; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Jane Rosenbloom Gottschalk, LAB’48, AB’52, died December 2 in Okemos, MI. She was 85. Gottschalk worked at CBS in New York City before joining the University of Chicago Press as an editor. She later earned a degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law and practiced real estate and family law. When her husband, Alexander Gottschalk, LAB’48, former UChicago professor of radiology, began teaching at Michigan State University, she took a job in the state attorney general’s office. Her husband died in 2010. She is survived by two daughters, including Amy Gottschalk, AB’87; a son; and five grandchildren.

William M. Soybel, AB’52, of Acton, MA, died November 11. He was 86. An internist, Soybel worked on the internal medicine staff of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics (now UChicago Medicine) before practicing for many years in Waltham, MA, and serving on active and reserve duty in the US Army and US Navy medical corps. In retirement he lectured at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Eisenstein Soybel, LAB’50; four daughters; two sons, David I. Soybel, AB’78, MD’82, and Jeremy G. Soybel, AB’83; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Reuben L. Hedlund, LAB’51, 12GC’53, EX’55, died August 1 in Glenview, IL. He was 82. A corporate lawyer, Hedlund was a partner with the firm Kirkland & Ellis when he successfully defended General Dynamics in a 1973–74 antitrust case before the US Supreme Court. In 1976 he cofounded his own firm, later acquired by Latham & Watkins, and then started another, Hedlund, Hanley & John, in 1991. For much of the 1990s, he chaired the Chicago Plan Commission. He is survived by a daughter; a son; a sister; and six grandchildren.

Harriet Nerlove Mischel, LAB’52, 12GC’54, EX’56, of Portland, OR, died September 13. She was 82. In 1963 Mischel became one of the first women to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology at Harvard University. She later served on Stanford University’s psychology faculty for more than 15 years, leaving in 1983 to start a private clinical therapy practice in New York City, where she also taught at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital’s affiliated medical schools. With her then husband, psychologist Walter Mischel, she authored the textbooks Readings in Personality (1973) and Essentials of Psychology (1980) and studied delayed gratification in children with an original method known as the marshmallow test. She is survived by three daughters, including Judith S. Mischel, MBA’86; a sister, Sara Nerlove, LAB’58; a brother, Marc L. Nerlove, LAB’49, AB’52; and six grandchildren.

Edgar C. Bristow III, MD’56, died September 30 in Absecon, NJ. He was 89. After serving as a US Army medical officer, Bristow joined the staffs of Atlantic City Medical Center and the hospital now known as Shore Medical Center, where he practiced family medicine and pediatrics. He also worked as a physician at Atlantic County, NJ, elementary schools and served on the board of the county’s American Red Cross. He is survived by his wife, Diane Byers; a daughter; and a son.

Harold B. Higgins, MBA’57, died June 11 in Scottsdale, AZ. He was 96. Higgins supervised long-range planning and corporate strategy at Standard Oil before becoming vice president of Irwin Management, where he was a skilled recruiter. After serving as vice president of human resources at Cummins Engine Company (later renamed Cummins), he started his own consulting and recruiting business, Higgins Associates. He is survived by a daughter, two sons, and two grandchildren.


Gene I. Rochlin, SB’60, SM’61, PhD’66, died November 25 in Oakland, CA. He was 80. A physicist and a political scientist, Rochlin was professor emeritus of energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for nearly four decades. Specializing in the social and political study of science and technology, he published Plutonium, Power, and Politics: International Arrangements for the Disposition of Spent Nuclear Fuel (1979), among other works. His honors included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation’s former international security program. He is survived by two sons, a sister, and four grandchildren.

Kent A. Kirwan, AM’61, PhD’70, died December 2 in Omaha, NE. He was 86. An expert in political philosophy and American political thought, Kirwan taught at Lawrence University and Marquette University before joining the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s political science department in 1977, serving as chair and, since 2002, as professor emeritus. He received the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1989. He is survived by his wife, Deborah K. Kirwan, AB’64; three sons; and six grandchildren.

Judith “Judy” M. Bardacke, AB’62, died December 7 in Washington, DC. She was 78. Bardacke was executive director of the League for Industrial Democracy before joining US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s staff in 1976 as his labor liaison. Four years later she began working for the American Federation of Teachers, where she became a senior official. After organizing the union’s opposition to national school voucher proposals in the 1980s and coordinating its own education reform efforts, she advised Education for Democracy International, the union’s civic education project for teachers in former Soviet states. She is survived by two sisters.

Daniel A. DeVries, MD’62, died June 6 in Grand Rapids, MI. He was 81. A general surgeon and a general practitioner, DeVries spent his medical career at Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids, where he retired in 2013. His local charitable work included many years as board president of Pine Rest Christian Hospital and the Christian Reformed Church in North America ministry now known as World Renew. He is survived by his wife, Marian; three daughters; one son; a sister; and five grandchildren.

James G. Tulip, PhD’62, of Woodford, Australia, died April 5, 2018. He was 84. Tulip was an associate professor of English at the University of Sydney, where he taught Elizabethan drama, Australian poetry, and American literature until his retirement in 1996. Through a series of seminars promoting cultural and critical exchange between Australian and American poets, he helped lay the foundation for the University of Sydney’s US Studies Centre. Chair of the school’s board of studies in divinity, he also led a successful initiative to make religious studies a subject at the secondary level in New South Wales. He is survived by his wife, Peggy Goldsmith; four children; a sister; a brother; and five grandchildren.

Daniel “Dan” N. Hoffman, AB’63, died October 2 in Charlotte, NC. He was 75. With an LLB from Harvard Law School and a PhD in political science from MIT, Hoffman taught in Johnson C. Smith University’s political science department from 1983 until his retirement in 2008, specializing in the US Constitution, public law, and American politics. His scholarly works include Governmental Secrecy and the Founding Fathers: A Study in Constitutional Controls (1981). He is survived by his wife, Dorothea, and a sister.

Robert “Bob” A. Schultz, AB’63, died November 14. He was 76. A philosopher who specialized in ethics and technology, Schultz taught at several universities before working as a data processing manager for nearly a decade at the trading company A-Mark Precious Metals. He joined Woodbury University’s faculty as professor and chair of computer information systems in 1989 and director of academic computing in 1990, holding these appointments until retiring in 2007. His books include Contemporary Issues in Ethics and Information Technology (2006). He is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.

Frank L. Smith, AB’65, PhD’71, died January 17 near Ellensburg, WA. He was 75. A civil rights activist who participated in the March on Washington and the Selma March, Smith became a medical doctor and taught surgery in Kenya before serving in the US Air Force. After running a private practice in Southern California, he became a general surgeon at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Toppenish, WA. Since 2010 he had practiced surgery at Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg. Survivors include his wife, Nancy Truitt, LAB’81; a daughter; and two sons, including Frank L. Smith III, SB’00, AM’03, PhD’09.

Howard A. Sulkin, MBA’65, PhD’69, of Pittsburgh, died October 25. He was 77. An expert in organization theory and adult education, Sulkin was vice president and founding dean of DePaul University’s School for New Learning before he joined Chicago’s Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, where he served as president from 1984 until 2009. A former chair of Chicago Sinai Congregation’s board of trustees, he also served as board chair for the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions. He is survived by his wife, Connie; two sons, Seth R. Sulkin, LAB’82, and Randall K. Sulkin, LAB’86; and a grandson.

Robert “Bob” Basta, AM’66, of Chicago, died December 19. He was 79. For three decades Basta taught philosophy, world literature, art history, and other humanities subjects at City Colleges of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey College, retiring in 1999. An avid artist, he produced a large body of work in oil painting. He is survived by his wife, Cindy Thomsen; a daughter, Kristin Basta, EX’97; a son, Joel Q. Basta, AM’08; and two grandchildren.

Mera J. Oxenhorn Flaumenhaft, AB’66, of Annapolis, MD, died December 30. She was 73. After serving as an assistant professor of English at Anne Arundel Community College, in 1977 Flaumenhaft joined the faculty of St. John’s College, Annapolis, where she was among the school’s longest-serving faculty members at the time of her death. An expert on Western political philosophy, Shakespeare, and biblical literature, she published an English translation of Machiavelli’s Mandragola (1981) and wrote The Civic Spectacle: Essays on Drama and Community (1994). Survivors include her husband, Harvey M. Flaumenhaft, AB’60, AM’62, PhD’80; two sons; and a brother, Mitchel Oxenhorn, AB’70.

Rudolf V. Perina, AB’67, died June 14 in Vienna, VA. He was 73. Born in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Perina fled the country as a child after the Soviet takeover and in 1951 immigrated to the United States. In 1974, while finishing a doctoral thesis on postwar Czech dissidents, he entered the US foreign service and rose to become a top diplomat in affairs of the former Eastern Bloc. During his three-decade career, he served as head of the US Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, facilitating the Dayton Accords; as ambassador to Moldova; and as special negotiator for Eurasian conflicts, among many other posts. He is survived by his wife, Ethel; two daughters; and four grandchildren.


Eric A. Schiller, AB’76, AM’84, PhD’91, of San Jose, CA, died of cardiovascular disease November 3. He was 63. A linguist who became a World Chess Federation master, Schiller published work on linguistic theory and Southeast Asian languages while writing more than 100 books on chess, including World Champion Openings (1997). He also helped develop computer chess games and tutorials, including Kasparov’s Gambit (1993), and served as arbiter for major international competitions. He is survived by three sisters, including Wendy J. Schiller, AB’86, and Elizabeth Schiller Friedman, AM’93, PhD’00; two brothers; and his mother.


Alan F. Enzer, EX’85, of Holliston, MA, died October 21. He was 55. Enzer’s creative writing earned him the College’s Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for fiction. A teacher and devoted father, he pursued a passion for writing music and playing guitar. He is survived by his wife, Noranne (Lopes) Enzer, AB’90; two sons; a brother; and his father.


Lawrence Sáez, PhD’99, of London, died of colon cancer September 11. He was 53. Sáez was professor of the political economy of South Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he codirected the Centre on the Politics of Energy Security. He also taught at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. A comparative political economist who studied economic reform in emerging markets, he wrote Banking Reform in India and China (2004) and coedited Coalition Politics and Hindu Nationalism (2005). He is survived by a son. 


Patrick Baumann, MBA’01, died of a heart attack October 13 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was 51. A lawyer from Switzerland with a master’s in sports administration, Baumann served as deputy secretary general of the International Basketball Federation; after earning his MBA, he became the top administrator of the sport’s world governing body, a post he held at his death. An Olympic Committee member since 2007, he vice chaired the Paris 2024 and the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics coordination commissions. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Sanchez-Mollinger, and two children.

Michael J. Crane, AB’05, of Arlington Heights, IL, died of pancreatic cancer July 9. He was 62. Originally a member of the Class of 1978, Crane later returned to the University to complete his bachelor’s in economics. He worked nationally as a consultant for small businesses. A devoted member of Psi Upsilon, he served the fraternity as a field director. He is survived by his partner, Dick Freer; two sisters; and a brother.