University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, AB’60, PhD’65, professor emeritus of psychology and comparative human development, died October 20 in Claremont, CA. He was 87. The son of a Hungarian diplomat, Csikszentmihalyi was born in Italy. To escape the rise of communism in Hungary, his family returned to Italy in 1947. While on vacation in Switzerland, Csikszentmihalyi heard a lecture by Carl Jung and decided to study psychology in the United States. He worked nights to pay his way through the College, later earning his PhD in human development. Joining UChicago’s faculty in 1970, he taught at the University for three decades. In 1975 he published a book that introduced his concept of autotelic experience, which he also dubbed flow. The idea that peak experiences come from immersive activities influenced both academic thought and popular culture. His 1990 book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience made the term a household word. A founder of the field known as positive psychology, he focused in his later research on motivation. His many honors include the Széchenyi Prize, Hungary’s most prestigious science award. He is survived by his wife, Isabella; two sons, Mark Csikszentmihalyi, LAB’82, and Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, LAB’86; and six grandchildren.


Mark A. Bradley, PhB’47, died June 1 in Basalt, CO. He was 92. After serving in the US Army during the Korean War, Bradley worked for many years as an executive at Chicago’s Regensteiner Press. He later moved to the Aspen, CO, area, where he enjoyed Aspen Institute programs and the Aspen Music Festival and School. A connoisseur of the arts, Bradley also remained a downhill and cross-country skier into his 70s.

Ed Asner, EX’48, died August 29 in Tarzana, CA. He was 91. As a member of the Chicago theater troupes Tonight at 8:30 and the Playwrights Theatre Club, Asner performed with future principals of the Second City. He moved to roles on and off Broadway before establishing his television and film career in Hollywood. Best known for playing gruff newsman Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the eponymous spin-off drama series, he won five of his seven Emmy Awards for the role. His later career included acting or voice roles in such films as Elf (2003) and Pixar’s Up (2009). A two-time president of the Screen Actors Guild, Asner was an outspoken advocate for labor issues and other social causes. He is survived by two daughters, two sons, and 10 grandchildren.


Edmond W. Freeman III, EX’51, died May 3 in Little Rock, AR. He was 94. While a graduate student in philosophy at UChicago, Freeman met and married June Biber Freeman, PhB’47, SB’49, EX’53. The couple moved back to his native Arkansas, where he became publisher of the Pine Bluff Commercial, which his great-grandfather founded in 1881. Under his guidance, the Commercial’s editorial page editor received a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for a series on civil rights, and the paper’s advocacy for conservation of the Buffalo River helped that waterway become the US National Park Service’s first national river in 1972. In retirement the Freemans worked to support arts, education, and health care organizations. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, three sons, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Franz A. Posey, SM’52, PhD’55, died April 15 in Nashville, TN. He was 91. With his master’s and PhD in chemistry, Posey worked for three decades as a research chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Among many honors, he received an Industrial Research magazine I-R 100 Award (now R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Award) for codeveloping a highly efficient process to recover silver from photographic and photocopier waste liquids—thereby making the liquids clean enough to empty down the drain. He is survived by two daughters, a son, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Richard L. Konizeski, SM’53, PhD’55, of Port Townsend, WA, died January 28, 2021. He was 103. With his doctorate in geology, Konizeski moved with his family to western Montana and went to work for the US Geological Survey’s water resources division. He later became a professor of hydrology in the University of Montana’s School of Forestry, retiring in 1980. He and his wife then traveled the West Coast by sailboat, settling in Cape George, WA. He was known in nearby Port Townsend as the man in the beaver coat for his recognizable winter garment. He is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Timuel D. Black Jr., AM’54, died October 13 in Chicago. He was 102. A teacher, civil rights leader, and oral historian, Black served in the US Army during World War II, fighting in both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, and studied sociology and history for his UChicago master’s. He then began a teaching career that took him to high schools in Chicago and Gary, IN, as well as to the City Colleges of Chicago. In 1956 he brought Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Seven years later he brought Chicagoans to King as an organizer of the freedom trains destined for the March on Washington. Black went on to march with King during his Chicago Freedom Movement. Instrumental in ending segregation in the Chicago Public Schools, Black also organized voters for Harold Washington’s historic 1983 campaign for Chicago mayor, helped with Carol Moseley Braun’s (JD’72) barrier-breaking US Senate win, and mentored a young Barack Obama. In his 80s he published two volumes of oral history under the title Bridges of Memory that chronicled the Great Migration to Chicago. An icon of Black Chicago and the freedom struggle in America, Black received numerous honors, including UChicago’s William Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He is survived by his wife, Zenobia Johnson-Black, and a daughter.

Lucy Brundrett Jefferson, AB’54, AB’55, AM’57, died June 23 in Concord, NH. She was 86. With her UChicago master’s degree in education, Jefferson worked in adult education and became politically active as a Democratic Party organizer in Michigan and New Jersey. After earning a second master’s in Middle Eastern politics and then moving to Boston, she switched to a career in psychology, working as a family therapist for a decade and a half with her husband, Alfred Carter Jefferson, PhD’59. When the couple converted to Catholicism, they began providing marriage enrichment workshops through Boston’s archdiocese. A member of the Ogunquit (ME) Art Association, she pursued passions for watercolor painting, photography, and paper crafts. Her husband died in 2015. She is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Carol Wendell Miller, AM’55, of Chicago, died January 29, 2021. She was 88. After teaching English at the City Colleges of Chicago’s Wilbur Wright College, Miller worked in special education at the former Charles F. Read Zone Center and then as an activity director at a Niles, IL, nursing home. A cofounder of what became known as the Peperomia and Exotic Plant Society, she edited the group’s newsletter, the Peperomia Gazette. She is survived by her daughter and her grandson.

D. Kent Morest, AB’55, died December 30, 2020, in Cambridge, MA. He was 86. With his MD from the Yale School of Medicine, Morest earned a reputation as “the father of modern neuroanatomy of the auditory system” and also helped pioneer the field of developmental neuroscience. After a stint on the UChicago faculty, he taught and conducted research at Harvard Medical School and the University of Connecticut Health Center, where he helped establish the neuroscience department and neuroscience doctoral program. He produced groundbreaking studies of the auditory brainstem that enabled early research on central auditory signal processing. His many honors include a UChicago Professional Achievement Award. He is survived by a daughter, Lydia Morest, AM’92; a son; and three grandchildren.

Philip K. Bock, AM’56, died June 16 in Albuquerque. He was 86. With his UChicago master’s in anthropology, Bock wrote his Harvard dissertation in the same field, on the Micmac people of eastern Canada. He spent the rest of his academic career at the University of New Mexico, rising to the rank of presidential professor of anthropology. An authority in the field of psychological anthropology, he wrote the textbooks Modern Cultural Anthropology: An Introduction (1969) and Rethinking Psychological Anthropology: Continuity and Change in the Study of Human Action (1988). Bock also served as editor in chief of the Journal of Anthropological Research. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; three daughters; and two grandsons.

Emil R. Johnson, AB’56, AM’58, died November 16, 2020, in Chicago. He was 86. Johnson taught political science at the City Colleges of Chicago. A longtime public director of the Illinois FAIR Plan Association, he also served on the board of the Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund. He is survived by his wife, Carol High Johnson.

Bruce E. Kaufman, JD’56, died January 9, 2021, in Tucson, AZ. He was 91. A US Marine Corps captain in the Korean War, Kaufman went on to serve as Illinois assistant attorney general. Moving to New Mexico in the 1970s, he took on roles as assistant and deputy district attorney in the state’s first judicial district. At one time a legal adviser to the New Mexico State Police, he later became a first district judge. After relocating to Arizona, Kaufman was active in the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. He is survived by a daughter, a son, seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Kenneth L. Currie, SM’58, PhD’59, of Nepean, Ontario, died April 19. He was 86. Earning his master’s and doctorate in geography with a focus on theoretical geology, Currie, a varsity basketball player and swimming captain, also received UChicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Medal in recognition of his athletics, scholarship, and character. He joined the Geological Survey of Canada in 1960 and created extensive geological maps for areas of British Columbia, the Maritimes, and the Canadian Shield. An expert on craters, he was appointed as a scientific investigator for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, gaining a rare opportunity to study moon rocks. He also arranged a Canadian-Soviet scientific exchange in the late 1970s. Active in church life, Currie served on the board of the Lutheran Church–Canada’s east district for two decades. His wife, Edrith (Rohwer) Currie, AM’59, died in 2016. He is survived by three daughters, including Ruth Ann Smith, AM’88; two sons; and 10 grandchildren, including River J. MacLeod, AB’21.

James C. Hormel, JD’58, died August 13 in San Francisco. He was 88. A former UChicago administrator who became the first openly gay US ambassador, Hormel served as dean of students at the Law School from 1961 to 1967 and later established a loan forgiveness program there to encourage students to pursue public service. A life member of the Law School Council, he also helped establish several scholarships at the school. He cofounded the LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign and, as a scion of the Hormel Foods family, chaired the company that manages the family’s investments and philanthropy. His government service included two United Nations appointments during the Clinton administration. Hormel began his historic term as ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999 after a two-year battle with congressional opponents. He is survived by his husband, Michael P. N. A. Hormel; four daughters; a son; 14 grandchildren, including Heather Hormel Miller, JD’02; and seven great-grandchildren.

Richard J. Feldman, EX’59, of Stevens Point, WI, died May 16. He was 88. Feldman attended UChicago’s Divinity School and served as a Baptist minister in Chicago; Bonesteel, SD; Garden City, KS; and Champaign, IL. Following a role as ecumenical campus minister at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he switched careers and earned a PhD in philosophy and law. A member of the philosophy faculty for 25 years at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, he chaired his department and coordinated the school’s honors program. In retirement he led efforts to create the central Wisconsin–based LIFE (Learning Is ForEver) lifelong learning program. He is survived by his wife, Lois; two daughters; a son; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Thomas W. Pape, AB’59, MST’74, died February 26, 2021, in Chesterton, IN. He was 85. After studying education as an undergraduate, Pape taught in a one-room California schoolhouse and later at a Los Angeles–area high school. Returning to earn his master of science in teaching at UChicago, he went on to teach at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in northwest Indiana, retiring in 2005 as the head guidance counselor at Michigan City High School. Pape also served as an instructor in counselor education at what is now Purdue University Northwest. He is survived by his wife, Maura; a daughter; three sons; a sister; and six grandchildren.


James A. Serritella, AM’68, JD’71, died April 23 in Chicago. He was 78. A former Catholic seminarian, Serritella became an attorney and served for nearly 50 years as principal outside counsel and legal adviser to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Chair of the religious and not-for-profit group at the firm Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, he became in the 1990s a chief architect of the archdiocese’s approach to corrective action regarding clerical sex abuse of minors. He advocated for full disclosure and transparency on the part of the archdiocese and for compassionate care of survivors and their families, establishing a model for nationwide church policies. Serritella also represented the Catholic Church, other religious organizations, and secular nonprofits in courts including the Illinois and US Supreme Courts. He is survived by his son, Anthony V. Serritella, AB’06, and a sister.

James Dungan Smith, PhD’68, died May 2 in Longmont, CO. He was 81. With his doctorate in geophysical sciences, Smith worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts before joining the faculty of the University of Washington, where he chaired both the oceanography and geophysics departments. An internationally renowned specialist in fjord studies and sedimentary geology, he later worked for the US Geological Survey National Research Program in Boulder, CO. His many honors include the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Hans Albert Einstein Award. He is survived by his wife, Mary Hill; two daughters; a son; and two grandchildren, including Emma Smith, Class of 2022.

Betty Lovell Deimel, AB’69, died May 21 in Canandaigua, NY. She was 72. After earning advanced degrees in library science and public administration, Deimel became a politically active feminist, marching for the Equal Rights Amendment and helping elect the first female mayor of Raleigh, NC. She held administrative positions with the National Association of Attorneys General and Allegheny College before joining Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, where she worked to improve the software development process. She later formed Gateway Associates and consulted worldwide on software process improvement. She is survived by her ex-husband, Lionel E. Deimel, AB’68, and a son.

Jeffrey T. Kuta, AB’69, JD’72, of Chicago, died July 12. He was 73. A sociology major in the College and an editor of the Chicago Maroon, Kuta later served as managing editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. As a real estate attorney, he worked extensively in affordable housing, chairing the American Bar Association’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. Proud of his role in securing an easement for the Chicago Theatre to undertake interior repairs in its landmark building, Kuta provided pro bono legal services for such nonprofits as the Chicago dance company Ensemble Español. He is survived by his wife, Diane L. Kuta, MAT’71; two sons; two brothers; and two grandchildren.

Sadegh Malek Shahmirzadi, AM’69, died October 12, 2020, in Tehran, Iran. He was 80. A leading Iranian archaeologist, Shahmirzadi joined the University of Tehran’s archaeology department in 1970 and served on the faculty for three decades. He supervised the excavations of many historical sites in the Iranian plateau, including Tepe Zagheh and Aq Tepe. He also launched the Sialk Reconsideration Project, renewing the excavation of one of the Middle East’s most important sites. His many publications in Farsi and English include texts that have become university classroom standards in Iran.


Robert W. Finberg, AB’71, of Northborough, MA, died August 30. He was 71. A clinician, educator, and infectious disease researcher, Finberg served as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the infectious disease division at its teaching affiliate the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before moving to the University of Massachusetts Medical School as Haidak Professor of Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine. Emeritus since 2021, he was an internationally renowned physician-scientist with more than 300 publications. Finberg made major contributions to the understanding of antiviral immunity and the development of viral therapeutics and vaccines, focusing recently on the COVID-19 pandemic. He is survived by his wife, Joyce Fingeroth, AB’73; three daughters, including Sara J. Fine, AB’04; a sister; a brother, James M. Finberg, JD’83; and three grandchildren.

Linda Davis LaForge, AB’74, died May 7 in Roselle Park, NJ. She was 69. A psychology major at UChicago, LaForge was a member of the campus group Students for Violent Non-Action and was proud of her role in convincing Valois to keep serving breakfast past morning. She worked in hospital administration and law office human resources before raising her family. A voracious reader, LaForge was also an enthusiast of classical music and avant-garde jazz. She is survived by her husband, James LaForge; two daughters; her mother; and a brother.

Steven D. Latterell, EX’77, died May 17 in Oak Park, IL. He was 70. Latterell, who entered the College with the Class of 1973, also attended Chicago Booth later in the decade. A finance industry professional in Chicago, he worked for several banks and securities firms and at a brokerage. Outside of work, Latterell was an avid billiards player. He is survived by a daughter, a son, a brother, and seven grandchildren.


Joseph W. York, MBA’82, died April 17 in Lancaster, PA. He was 69. York, who held a public policy doctorate in addition to his business degree, spent his career in research and administrative leadership positions at several medical schools and other health care training institutions. After serving as director of the University of Washington School of Medicine’s residency training program, he became the first national dean for health sciences at DeVry University and the first dean of graduate education at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. He is survived by his wife, Mary Gibson; a son; and a brother.

Arlene Kirschenbaum Zide, PhD’82, died January 8, 2021, in Chicago. She was 80. Zide served for many years as professor of humanities and women’s studies at the City Colleges of Chicago. With her PhD in linguistics and her expertise in Hindi and several Munda languages of India, she edited In Their Own Voice: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary Indian Women Poets (1993). She also held a Fulbright Scholarship for translation work at the University of Delhi and a research associate position with the UChicago-based Munda Language Project. A widely published poet, she edited the feminist literary journal Primavera. She is survived by her husband, Norman H. Zide, professor emeritus of South Asian languages and civilizations and linguistics; and sons Gregory Zide, LAB’83, and William J. Zide, LAB’83.

Thomas B. Levergood, AB’84, AM’89, of Chicago, died of cancer August 6. He was 58. Levergood earned his bachelor’s in political science and his master’s in the program then known as General Studies in the Humanities before returning to UChicago to pursue doctoral studies in theology, politics, and literature in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought. He cofounded the Lumen Christi Institute, a center for Catholic thought, in Hyde Park in 1997, leaving his PhD unfinished to serve as its executive director. Levergood established a permanent home for Lumen Christi at Gavin House, adjacent to the Hyde Park campus; organized lectures and colloquia in collaboration with University faculty; and inspired similar institutes at other schools including Harvard University and Uppsala University. He is survived by a sister and a brother.

Andy Propst, AB’86, of Peachtree City, GA, died of cancer September 6. He was 56. An arts journalist and theater expert, Propst helped establish the Concrete Gothic Theatre Group at UChicago, later moving to New York City and becoming an assistant to Joseph Papp, founder of the Public Theater. In addition to creating AmericanTheater, an early online resource about nonprofit performing arts groups, he wrote theater criticism for the Village Voice, served as an editor for the website TheaterMania, and reported on-air for the satellite radio channel On Broadway. Propst also wrote a biography of songwriter and composer Cy Coleman, a study of the musical comedy duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and the book The 100 Most Important People in Musical Theatre (2019).

Snow Mitchell Jr., MBA’87, died April 17 in Woodstock, GA. He was 72. Mitchell began his career as a high school mathematics teacher. Transitioning to the banking industry, he earned his MBA while working for First Wisconsin National Bank. He went on to become president of North Milwaukee State Bank, the first Black-owned financial institution in Wisconsin. Moving to Georgia, he later served as southern regional vice president for Prison Fellowship Ministries. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen; two sons, including Brian A. Mitchell, MBA’01; and three grandchildren.


Andrew Kowalczuk, AB’95, died April 20 in Chicago. He was 47. A philosophy major and premed student in the College, Kowalczuk entered a postbaccalaureate research program at the Pritzker School of Medicine and later worked as a medical researcher, publishing articles in Neurosurgery and other journals. Passionate in his advocacy for green technology and clean energy, he became a research engineer at the water heating technology company Intellihot. A world traveler who taught English and studied other languages abroad, he used his knowledge of French to translate articles for the website Global Voices. He is survived by his parents and a sister.


Courtney Hall, MBA’03, JD’03, of New York City, died April 29. He was 52. A National Football League center, Hall spent his eight-season career, from 1989 to 1996, with the then San Diego Chargers. For five of those seasons he was captain of the team, including for its lone Super Bowl appearance in 1995. He also represented the Chargers on the NFL Players Association. Retiring from the NFL, Hall earned a joint MBA and JD before launching a second career in finance. He worked in investment banking on Wall Street and later cofounded a venture capital firm. In 2014 Hall received the Gerald R. Ford Legends Award, an honor given to former collegiate or professional centers for contributions to football, business, or philanthropy. Survivors include his wife, LaShann Moutique DeArcy Hall; two daughters; two sons; and his mother.


Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng, SM’21, died November 9 in Chicago, the victim of a robbery and shooting. He was 24. Zheng studied statistics and finance as an undergraduate at the University of Hong Kong, where he earned a nickname meaning “young master” in Chinese for his mathematical talents. He continued his training in statistics at UChicago, receiving his master’s degree this past summer. An aspiring data scientist, he conducted research using machine learning to infer gene regulatory networks. Remembered for his willingness to help others, Zheng also worked as a teaching assistant at Chicago Booth and the Harris School of Public Policy. Beyond his academic pursuits, his hobbies included table tennis, photography, and Chinese calligraphy. He is survived by his parents.

Samantha Burton, Class of 2022 in the Harris School of Public Policy, died of a sudden illness November 3 in Chicago. She was 23. After earning her bachelor’s in political science from Hamline University, Burton worked there as a research assistant for a project assessing pedagogy and educational equity. A paper she cowrote on the subject appeared posthumously in the journal Teaching in Higher Education. At Harris, Burton was pursuing her master’s in public policy and was a teaching assistant for courses on environmental and urban studies. A former legislative intern for a Minnesota nonprofit dedicated to reproductive rights, she studied that issue at Harris and advocated for a range of other progressive causes. She is survived by her parents and two sisters.

Updated 03.28.2022: The obituary for Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, AB’60, PhD’65, has been revised to correct a misstatement of where he was born and his early history.