Kenneth J. Northcott, professor emeritus of Germanic studies, in 1973. (UChicago Photographic Archive, apf7-00964, University of Chicago Library

University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni deaths.

Faculty and staff

Clemens C. J. Roothaan, PhD’50, Louis Block Professor Emeritus of Physics and Chemistry, died June 17 in Chicago. He was 100. A physics student in the Netherlands at the outset of World War II, Roothaan was imprisoned by the Nazis because of his brother’s work with the Dutch resistance, surviving two concentration camps and a death march. After the war, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study quantum physics at UChicago. Having developed what became a foundational model for computing electron orbitals in atoms and molecules (work now known as the Roothaan equations), he taught at UChicago from 1952 until 1988, leading the Computation Center in its early years and devising digital computing methods for quantum physics and other scientific fields. In retirement he helped Hewlett-Packard develop the Intel Itanium processor and served as the company’s liaison with the Large Hadron Collider. His wife, Judith C. Roothaan, EX’49, died in 2016. He is survived by two daughters, including Karen Roothaan, AB’74; three sons, John Roothaan, LAB’72, Peter Roothaan, LAB’75, and Charles Roothaan, LAB’78; and five grandchildren.

Kenneth J. Northcott, professor emeritus of Germanic studies, died June 4 in Chicago. He was 96. Northcott served in the British Army’s Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during World War II and then worked for the British Intelligence Corps, interrogating suspected war criminals in Germany. A translator, stage actor, and expert in medieval German literature, he began teaching at UChicago in 1958, thrice chairing the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. He translated fiction and drama by 20th-century Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, as well as scholarly works on Goethe, Western European urban design, and East German intellectuals. His dramatic performances included roles in a Hull House Theater production of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter and numerous Court Theatre productions. He is survived by his wife, Patricia John, AB’81, MBA’89; four children, including Victoria Northcott, LAB’68, and Michael Northcott, LAB’77; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Jay M. Goldberg, SB’56, AB’56. PhD’60, professor emeritus in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiological Sciences, of Chicago, died June 17. He was 83. A member of the UChicago faculty since 1963 and a pioneer in the field of vestibular neurophysiology, Goldberg codirected an influential 1969 study of the neurons in an animal’s hindbrain that enable sound localization. With the late UChicago surgeon Cesár Fernández, he later mapped the pathways in the vestibular system that underlie spatial orientation and movement. A scientific adviser for NASA, Goldberg worked at the agency’s Vestibular Research Facility from 1984 to 1992, writing a strategic plan for biological and medical research related to space exploration. Among other publications, he coauthored the textbook The Vestibular System: A Sixth Sense (2012). His wife, Florence Bonnick, an administrator in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiological Sciences, died in 2018. Survivors include two daughters and two sons, David Goldberg, LAB’78, and Aaron T. Goldberg, LAB’87.

Olaf Schneewind, Louis Block Professor of Microbiology, died of cancer May 26 in Burr Ridge, IL. He was 57. Schneewind joined the UChicago faculty in 2001 and three years later became chair of the new microbiology department, a position he held at his death. An expert on human infectious diseases and the pathogenic bacteria that cause them, he helped discover bacterial sortase enzymes and their role in the development of diseases. Schneewind had since been at work on a vaccine for Staphylococcus aureus. Formerly principal investigator of the Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense, he led the development of UChicago’s Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory. A fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is survived by his wife, Dominique Missiakas, professor of microbiology; and three daughters, including Daphne Schneewind, LAB’16, and Chloe Schneewind, LAB’18.


Eugene R. Mindell, SB’43, MD’45, died February 15 in Amherst, NY. He was 96. A former Veterans Administration physician who focused on bone cancer surgery during his UChicago residency, Mindell was recruited by the University at Buffalo’s medical school to found its Department of Orthopaedics, which he chaired from 1964 to 1988. He pioneered limb-sparing surgical procedures for bone cancer patients and received many honors, including a Distinguished Service Award from the UChicago Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association. His wife, June (Abrams) Mindell, EX’45, died in 2010. Survivors include two sons, a sister, three grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Carolyn Grace Brinkerhoff, AB’45, died November 2 in Frankfort, IL. She was 95. An English major at UChicago, Brinkerhoff dedicated much of her life to raising her family. She is survived by two daughters, a son, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Frederic C. Cimerblatt, EX’45, died December 10 in Pinehurst, NC. He was 93. A US Navy veteran, Cimerblatt spent his career as an investment banker at the firm Paine Webber, which later merged with UBS. He is survived by his wife, Rita.

Zoe Wise Mikva, PhB’47, AM’51, died January 19 in Chicago. She was 90. An educator and activist, Mikva taught elementary school in Washington, DC, and Evanston, IL, before serving as a special assistant at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. She later led fundraising for the Advocacy Institute and directed education projects for the Chicago-based law and policy center Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. In 1997, with her husband, former DC Circuit chief judge and then Law School faculty member Abner J. Mikva, JD’51, she launched the youth civic leadership initiative the Mikva Challenge. Her husband died in 2016. She is survived by three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Ruth Johnstone Wales, AB’47, died December 2 in Belmont, MA. She was 90. An editor with a master’s in education, Wales worked at the Christian Science Monitor before teaching elementary school at Hanscom Air Force Base in Middlesex County. Rejoining the Monitor, she became editor of the front page and later of the international edition. She is survived by three daughters, a son, and six grandchildren.

Mason C. Cox, PhB’48, SB’48, of Largo, FL, died February 1. He was 91. With a PhD in nuclear physics, Cox did research in fiber-optic and laser technology for several manufacturers, including American Optical Corporation; contributed to US government safety standards for color television, microwave ovens, and medical X-ray systems; and helped develop the sensor system for a NASA booster rocket. His expertise in radiology also led to work as a health physicist in Florida. He is survived by his wife, Isabella; three daughters; a son; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Harris L. Wofford Jr., AB’48, died January 21 in Washington, DC. He was 92. A former legal counsel for the US Civil Rights Commission who joined President John F. Kennedy’s staff as a civil rights assistant, Wofford helped found the Peace Corps and served as its representative in Africa. After advising Martin Luther King Jr. during the Selma March, he became president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury and then of Bryn Mawr College, later serving as Pennsylvania’s secretary of labor and industry. As a US senator from that state from 1991 to 1994, he crafted the National and Community Service Trust Act, which founded AmeriCorps and other initiatives under a federal agency he led until 2001. He is survived by his husband, Matthew Charlton; a daughter; two sons; a sister; a brother; and six grandchildren.

James E. Furlich, PhB’49, AM’52, died April 1 in Charlottesville, VA. He was 91. Furlich served in the US Army between earning his UChicago degrees in European history. A gifted linguist, he worked in the US Department of State and did tours throughout Southeast Asia. After retiring in 1987, he took up federal government contract work for a decade. He is survived by his wife, Betty; a daughter; two sons; and seven grandchildren.

Kurt Lang, AB’49, AM’52, PhD’53, died May 1 in Cambridge, MA. He was 95. Lang fled Nazi Germany at age 12, served in the US Army during World War II, and then worked on the US military’s denazification efforts in Germany. At UChicago he married fellow sociology graduate student Gladys Engel Lang, PhD’54, with whom he pioneered the exit poll in the 1950s. The couple’s MacArthur Day study, published in their book Politics and Television (1968), is regarded as a classic about the medium and its influence on perceptions of public events. In 1984 Lang’s teaching career took him to the University of Washington, where he directed the school of communication and retired in 1993. His wife died in 2016. He is survived by a daughter, Glenna Lang, AB’72; a son; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.


Ruth L. (Stevenson) Leder, AB’50, died February 1 in Leeds, MA. She was 95. Trained as a nurse in Detroit before earning her bachelor’s at UChicago, Leder went on to work at the former Saint Joseph Hospital in Flint, MI, until her retirement. Her husband, Cyril M. Leder, AB’50, AM’53, died in 2009. She is survived by a grandson.

Oscar K. Reiss, SB’50, PhD’54, died March 21 in Denver. He was 97. A Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany and served in the US Army during World War II, Reiss worked in the dairy industry before training as a biochemist at UChicago under the GI Bill and pursuing medical research. At the University of Colorado Medical School’s Webb-Waring Lung Institute (now the Webb-Waring Center), he headed the biochemistry division and led early research on emphysema and smoking. In retirement he helped develop the PSA test for prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife, Diane; three daughters; and two grandchildren.

Richard G. Thompson, SM’54, MD’54, died February 4 in Colorado Springs, CO. He was 91. After serving as a US Army surgeon in Okinawa and helping develop new cardiovascular surgery techniques in Chicago and Pittsburgh, Thompson established a practice in Colorado Springs. He performed surgeries at area hospitals for 25 years, then earned a JD and worked for several insurance companies in Boise, ID, and Albuquerque, NM. Survivors include his wife, Lee Ann Hammond; a daughter; and two sons.

Victor I. Carlson, AB’55, AM’59, of Chicago, died November 25. He was 84. An art historian and curator, Carlson specialized in prints and drawings by 18th- and 19th-century French artists, working first at the Baltimore Museum of Art and then at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His major exhibitions included Matisse as a Draughtsman (1971); Regency to Empire: French Printmaking, 1715–1814 (1984); and Visions of Antiquity: Neoclassical Figure Drawings (1993). He is survived by a sister and a brother.

Caroline (Swenson) Paton, AB’56, of Sharon, CT, died March 18. She was 86. A folklorist and folk singer, Paton cofounded Folk-Legacy Records in 1961, collaborating with her late husband, Sandy, and a business partner to release more than 100 albums by folk musicians including Frank Proffitt and Hobart Smith before the Smithsonian Institution acquired the label last year. Her contributions to folk music also involved arranging performances and appearing at major US folk festivals, developing music education programs, and making albums as a recording artist with her husband. She is survived by two sons, two brothers, a sister, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Hague D. Foster, AB’57, PhD’66, of San Leandro, CA, died May 22. He was 83. Foster taught philosophy at California State University, Fresno, from 1966 until retiring in 1998. Trained in the philosophy of science, he later did research in social and political philosophy. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine “Lorri” (Katz) Foster, AB’57; three daughters; a son; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Demetrios G. Tsoulos, SB’58, MD’62, died March 16 in Savannah, GA. He was 81. Tsoulos retired as a colonel after 30 years as a surgeon in the US Army Special Forces, including two tours of duty in Vietnam and participation in the Desert Shield and Desert Storm phases of the Gulf War. In retirement he worked as an emergency room doctor in Georgia and Alabama. Survivors include his wife, Lawanna; a daughter; two sons; a brother; and two grandchildren.

Eve Leoff, AB’59, died in August 2018 in San Diego. She was 80. Leoff earned her doctorate at Columbia University, graduating during the 1968 student uprising. Her book A Study of John Keats’s “Isabella” (1972) was based on her dissertation. She taught English at Hunter College, developing its creative writing program and helping create its women’s studies curriculum before retiring in 2005. She is survived by her husband, Greg Wassil, and a sister.


Mary A. Endres, AM’61, of Colorado Springs, CO, died January 30. She was 84. Endres led a career as a writer, editor, and educator. With a master’s in English, she taught at Zion-Benton Township High School in Zion, IL. She is survived by her lifelong friend Janice Burton and a brother.

Jack A. Lees, SM’63, PhD’67, died April 23 in Chapel Hill, NC. He was 77. An expert in topology, Lees taught mathematics at universities in Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States, becoming the namesake for Lees’s immersion theoreom on topological manifolds. In 1979 he began working in the petroleum industry, developing software and analytical tools for underground energy exploration. He later cofounded a company to design 3-D data visualization and geologic modeling technology. He is survived by his wife, Emily Jo, and two daughters.

Theresa Miller, AB’63, died February 26 in Sandy Spring, MD. The daughter of Byron S. Miller, AB’35, JD’37, and Jeanette Rifas Miller, AB’36, JD’37, she was a biology major at UChicago, later earning her JD from the John Marshall School of Law. She is survived by a daughter, a son, two sisters, and four grandchildren.

William B. Shew, AB’63, AM’66, died February 3 in Washington, DC. He was 76. An economic consultant who wrote about market regulation, telecommunications, and media, Shew taught at the University of London before serving as a vice president at National Economic Research Associates. After directing economic studies at the accounting firm Arthur Andersen in Washington, DC, Shew ran a consultancy affiliated with the Hudson Institute. He is survived by his wife, Leslie Wheelock, and a daughter.

Frances L. Moser, SB’65, SM’67, PhD’77, of Burbank, CA, died March 29. She was 75. A medical physicist, Moser worked in radiology and radiation therapy and taught science and mathematics. She is survived by a sister and a brother.


Susan Z. Diamond, AB’70, died of esophageal cancer on April 25 in Bensenville, IL. She was 69. As president of her own consulting firm, Diamond taught seminars on finance for the nonfinancial managers of organizations. Her clients included Deere & Company and Archer Daniels Midland. Devoted to community service, she led the Bensenville Community Library’s board of trustees. She also held investiture in two Sherlockian literary societies, the Baker Street Irregulars and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. She is survived by her husband, Allan Trace Devitt, EX’60.


David S. Kuhl, MBA’88, died of lung cancer February 12 in New York City. He was 58. Kuhl worked at what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers in Los Angeles before earning his MBA and beginning a career in the petroleum industry, eventually serving as finance leader at Esso Benelux in the Netherlands. His work in finance later brought him into senior roles at such organizations as the technology company Diebold Nixdorf. He is survived by his wife, Diane Nelson Kuhl, MBA’88; two daughters; and his mother.


Dragica “Drew” Balac, AB’92, of Chicago, died April 1. She was 49. A trial lawyer for 20 years, Balac was a founder of the medical malpractice defense firm the Balac Group. She is survived by a brother and her mother.

Rosalyn “Roz” M. Kriener, CER’99, CER’01, of Chicago, died December 31, 2017. She was 68. A director of programming at the National Association of Realtors, where she worked for more than 25 years, Kriener helped create and manage programs for the association’s annual conferences, midyear legislative meetings, and trade expos. She is survived by three sisters, six brothers, and her mother.