University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

Richard W. Newcomb, former associate professor in pediatrics, died June 23 in Chicago. He was 89. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Newcomb served as a captain in the US Air Force Medical Corps at Strategic Air Command in Omaha, NE, where he studied pathology and first practiced pediatric medicine. At the Children’s Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver, he investigated pediatric allergies and the role of immunoglobulin E. At UChicago, Newcomb established the University’s first pediatric pulmonary function lab and was medical director of La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Research Center. After retiring from the University, he set up a clinical practice in allergy and pulmonology in northwest Indiana, serving asthmatic children from communities affected by industrial pollution. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Joan Newcomb, PhD’90, CER’06; two daughters, Carol S. Newcomb, LAB’76, and Sally Newcomb Field, LAB’79; two sons, Charles Newcomb, LAB’78, and Christopher Newcomb, AB’86; and eight grandsons.

Arthur F. Kohrman, AB’55, SB’55, former professor of pediatrics at the Pritzker School of Medicine and the College, died September 19, 2019, in Bernard, ME. He was 84. A specialist in pediatric endocrinology, Kohrman joined the UChicago faculty in 1981, serving as associate chair of the pediatrics department and chair of the pediatric ethics committee, and heading the medical center’s institutional review board; he also led La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Research Center. In 1997 he joined the faculties of Northwestern University’s medical school and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. A national voice on health policy, Kohrman chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics’ bioethics committee and oversaw the institutional review boards of both the Illinois and Chicago public health departments. He is survived by his wife, Claire H. Kohrman, LAB’52; three daughters, including Rachel Kohrman Ramos, LAB’86; a son; and eight grandchildren.

Scott J. Davis, retired professor from practice at the Law School, of Chicago, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis April 7. He was 68. Davis attended UChicago’s Laboratory Schools, leaving at age 16 to matriculate at Yale. After law school at Harvard and a judicial clerkship with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, he joined the law firm now known as Mayer Brown, becoming a partner in the litigation practice and then head of mergers and acquisitions. As a lecturer at Chicago Booth and the Law School, he taught courses on buyouts and on mergers and acquisitions for several years. Retiring from Mayer Brown, he joined the Law School faculty full time in 2016 as its first professor from practice and continued teaching until last year, helping the school expand its experiential learning opportunities and deepen its business law curriculum. He is survived by his wife, Anne; three sons, including William M. Davis, LAB’00, MBA’12; three sisters, including Susan D. Brunner, AB’77; and three grandchildren.

Nancy A. Gormley, senior director for gift administration in alumni relations and development, died after a long illness May 22 in Chicago. She was 62. Gormley joined the UChicago staff in 1998 as a project assistant in the medical center’s development office and moved two years later to the gift administration team, which she led since 2003. Spearheading a major technological transformation at alumni relations and development, she oversaw the conversion of all gift records to a new database and the automation of many internal processes. Devoted to her family, Gormley was an avid gardener and golfer. She is survived by her husband, Stephen; two sons; five sisters; a brother; and three grandchildren.


Harold I. Kahen, AB’38, JD’40, died March 30 in Jamaica, NY. He was 101. A World War II US Army veteran, Kahen worked as an attorney for the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, later practicing corporate law in New York City for several firms including Loeb & Loeb. A board member of various nonprofits, he also worked pro bono on civil rights matters, helping file the amicus brief for the American Civil Liberties Union in the US Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kraemer, which ruled racially restrictive housing covenants unconstitutional. He is survived by a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.


Margery Stern Cahn, AB’42, died April 24 in Santa Rosa, CA. She was 100. During World War II Cahn did graduate work in the Humanities Division, studying Babylonian cylinder seals. After the war she and her husband, former Manhattan Project physicist Albert S. Cahn Jr., SM’43, settled in Los Angeles. For many years a member of the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters, she pursued passions in graphic arts, ceramics, and literature. Her husband died in 1978. She is survived by a daughter, Deborah Stern Cahn, AB’70; a son, Robert Stern Cahn, SB’66; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Virginia “Ginny” L. Johnson Shapiro, PhB’46, AM’51, died February 5 in Roseville, CA. She was 93. The first member of her family to attend college, thanks to a high school English teacher who brought her to a UChicago entrance exam, Shapiro went on to earn her master’s in sociology at the University. She applied that degree to survey-research work at Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, the Chicago-based market research firm founded by her husband, Leo J. Shapiro, AB’42, PhD’56. She raised four children and later in life took up writing. Her husband died in 2015. She is survived by a daughter; three sons, including David B. Shapiro, AM’88, and Owen J. Shapiro, AM’90, MBA’96; and five grandchildren.

George Steiner, AB’48, died February 3 in Cambridge, England. He was 90. Born in Paris to Austrian Jewish émigré parents, he fled the Nazis for the United States as a child. With a master’s from Harvard and a doctorate from Oxford, he taught literature at Cambridge University, the University of Geneva, and several US universities. For more than 30 years he was senior book reviewer for the New Yorker. A literary critic who defended the Western canon, Steiner wrote books, such as Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman (1967), that were haunted by the Holocaust and the theme of culture’s proximity to barbarism. He is survived by his wife, Zara Alice Shakow; a daughter; a son; and two grandchildren.


Arley D. Cathey, PhB’50, of El Dorado, AR, died in May. He was 93. Cathey entered the Hutchins College at age 16 and later said the liberal arts education he received there shaped his beliefs for life. Drafted into the military, he served in the US Navy for 14 months before finishing his UChicago degree and launching a business career. The president of Butane Gas in his native Arkansas, he made philanthropic gifts to the College in support of a learning center, a residential house, and a dining commons that all bear the Arley D. Cathey name in honor of his father.

Harry N. D. Fisher, AB’50, JD’53, of Kirkwood, MO, died November 19. He was 88. Fisher worked as a criminal defense attorney at a St. Louis law firm before shifting to a career in public relations and becoming a principal in the firm Stemmler, Bartram, Fisher, and Payne. An editor of the former regional chamber of commerce magazine St. Louis Commerce, he also practiced biblical translation, taking a position as scholar in residence at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute and publishing Luke–Acts Is a Legal Brief: A Unified Commentary (1995). Survivors include his wife, Arden; a daughter; a son, Harry Noble Fisher, AB’79; and several grandchildren.

Wolf Kahn, AB’50, died March 15 in New York City. He was 92. An artist whose colorful landscapes blended realism and abstraction, Kahn fled Nazi Germany as a child and eventually settled with his family in New York City. He served in the US Navy, studied art with Hans Hofmann, and worked as the abstract expressionist’s studio assistant before attending UChicago on the GI Bill. He later helped establish the Hansa Gallery, named in his mentor’s honor, and in 1956 joined the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, a regular venue for his exhibitions over the next four decades. His works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren.

Ronald E. Myers, AB’50, PhD’55, MD’56, of Pearland, TX, died February 20. He was 90. After serving as a captain in the US Army Medical Corps, Myers trained as a neurologist and became chief of the Laboratory of Perinatal Physiology at the National Institutes of Health. He was later appointed associate chief of staff for research at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center and research professor at the University of Cincinnati, roles he held until retiring in 1995. As a brain researcher, he discovered a biochemical mechanism for the effect of hyperglycemia on brain injury during oxygen deprivation states. He is survived by his wife, Gabrielle de Courten-Myers; two daughters; a son; and two grandchildren.

Gilbert L. Schechtman, AB’51, AM’54, died November 8 in Boca Raton, FL. He was 88. With a master’s in English and a doctorate in education, Schechtman taught English and served as dean of student personnel services at City Colleges of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey College. An amateur magician and folk guitarist, he wrote detective fiction and ran a Great Books Foundation discussion group at a southeast Florida public library. His first wife, Vivienne Stam Schechtman, AB’51, died in 1984. He is survived by his second wife, Beatrice Hirsch; three daughters, including Marya S. Schechtman, AB’82; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

William J. Small, AM’51, died May 24 in New York City. He was 93. A World War II US Army veteran who became a top broadcast news executive, Small led an award-winning CBS affiliate in Louisville, KY, before he was hired as Washington bureau chief of the network’s national news division. Known for his adamant defense of press freedom and as a champion of hiring women journalists, he worked at CBS News from 1962 to 1978, leading the team behind the CBS Evening News and related shows during the Vietnam War and Watergate. After tenures as president of NBC News and United Press International, he directed Fordham University’s Center for Communications and later served as dean of its graduate business school. His honors include the UChicago Alumni Association’s Professional Achievement Award and a National Academy of Television Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. He is survived by two daughters, a sister, and six grandchildren.

Charles H. Long, DB’53, PhD’62, died February 12 in Chapel Hill, NC. He was 93. A World War II US Army Air Force veteran and an ordained minister of the American Baptist Convention, Long rose to the rank of full professor at UChicago’s Divinity School, where he served as dean of students, chaired the Committee on African Studies, and cofounded the journal History of Religions. In 1973 he was elected president of the American Academy of Religion, and the following year he joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He later taught at Syracuse University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, retiring in 1996. A leading historian of religion and a founding member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, Long received many honors, including the Divinity School’s Alumnus of the Year Award. Survivors include his wife, Alice Freeman Long, AM’52; several children and grandchildren; and brother Jerome H. Long, DB’60, AM’62, PhD’73.

Joel J. Kupperman, AB’54, SB’55, AM’56, died April 8 in New York City. He was 83. A star on the radio and television program The Quiz Kids from age 6 to 16, Kupperman was scarred by the media attention and turned to a reclusive academic life. At UChicago he studied Chinese philosophy with Herrlee G. Creel, PhB’26, AM’27, DB’28, PhD’29, and left the United States to earn a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Teaching philosophy at the University of Connecticut from 1960 until his retirement 50 years later, he specialized in ethics and aesthetics and helped introduce Asian philosophy into US university curricula. The author of such works as Character (1991), he received the UConn Foundation’s Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Faculty Excellence in Research Awards. He is survived by his wife, Karen Ordahl Kupperman; a daughter; a son; a sister; and a grandchild.


Aaron J. Douglas, AB’62, of Fort Collins, CO, died February 2. He was 79. With a PhD in economics, Douglas served as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a research associate at Harvard University before earning a master’s in forestry and spending the rest of his career as a natural resource economist. He worked first in Fort Collins for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and then for the US Geological Survey, developing nonmarket valuation methods to assess alternative natural resource management proposals. Among other accomplishments, Douglas helped secure a major agreement to remove dams from the Klamath River.

James B. Drew, AM’64, died May 16, 2019, in Chicago. He was 78. A licensed clinical social worker, Drew ran his own private practice for nearly 50 years. His wife, Lynn Urwitz Drew, AM’68, died in 2017. He is survived by two daughters, Leah Tova Drew, LAB’99, and Anya Drew, LAB’05; a sister; and two brothers.

David B. Sarver, JD’64, MBA’66, died January 15 in Seattle. He was 80. After working in the Illinois Department of Revenue’s income tax group, Sarver led the tax department at the accounting firm Laventhol & Horwath’s Minneapolis office, where he became a partner. He later ran a private office as a tax and accounting adviser in Southern California. In retirement Sarver served as a hospital treasurer on Orcas Island, WA. Survivors include his wife, Maxine; a daughter; and a son.

Paul K. Becker, AB’68, AM’73, died March 16, 2019, in Port Townsend, WA. He was 72. A math major in the College and a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, Becker earned his UChicago master’s in psychology and moved to San Francisco, studying aikido and teaching math at a local community college. With a second master’s in physics, he worked as an oceanographer at the University of Washington before joining the Seattle-based software company his brother founded and remaining there for the rest of his career. Becker founded Aikido Port Townsend, a martial arts school in his longtime hometown. He is survived by his wife, Lisa Crosby; two daughters; a brother; and two step-siblings.

Joseph D. Brisben, AB’69 (Class of 1963), died January 27 in Iowa City, IA. He was 78. After working as a journalist in Chicago, Brisben embarked on a career in public relations at the University of Chicago; at Drake University, where he earned a master’s in English; and at the University of Iowa. In midlife he changed professions and became a financial planner for Securities Corporation of Iowa, BDF Investments, and Wells Fargo. A skilled musician, Brisben also wrote award-winning fiction. He is survived by two daughters, two sons, and several grandchildren.

Howard B. Abrams, LAB’58, JD’66, of Huntington Woods, MI, died January 27. He was 79. An expert on copyright and entertainment law, Abrams was professor emeritus of law at the University of Detroit Mercy and the author of the annually updated treatise The Law of Copyright. A voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and twice a trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, he received the State Bar of Michigan’s John Hensl Award for his contributions to law and the arts. Survivors include his wife, Nina Dodge Abrams, and two siblings.

Avraham “Rami” Rabby, MBA’69, died April 17 in Ramat Gan, Israel. He was 77. The first blind person to serve as a US State Department diplomat, Rabby worked in human resources and in employment consulting for people with disabilities before he applied to the Foreign Service in 1985. He waged and won a four-year legal battle that reversed a State Department policy barring the blind from diplomatic service, taking his first post at the US embassy in London and finishing his career as chief of the political section at the embassy in Trinidad and Tobago. He is survived by a brother.


Donald C. Farley Jr., MAT’71, died December 21 in Evanston, IL. He was 97. After serving in the South Pacific as a US Army radio telegraph operator during World War II, Farley resumed his studies at Oberlin College and became a teaching fellow in China. He later earned a master of divinity at Yale University and served as a minister in the United Church of Christ for more than 20 years. Launching a second career midlife, he earned a master’s at UChicago and taught high school English in the Chicago area. He is survived by three daughters, a brother, four grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren.

Conrad W. Worrill, AM’71, died June 3 in Chicago. He was 78. A US Army veteran and a civil rights activist, Worrill followed his School of Social Service Administration degree with a doctorate in curriculum and instruction and became an advocate for African-centered education. He spent more than 40 years on the faculty of Northeastern Illinois University, where he directed the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, based in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. The longtime chair of the National Black United Front and a key organizer in Harold Washington’s first Chicago mayoral campaign, Worrill served as a consultant for the 1995 Million Man March. He is survived by his wife, Arlina, and four daughters.

Steven D. Golladay, SM’72, PhD’82, of Hopewell Junction, NY, died December 9. He was 73. A Vietnam War US Army veteran with a PhD in physics, Golladay worked in microelectronics research and design at IBM, where he was credited with more than 20 US patents. He later became lead designer for the Japanese semiconductor company Nuflare Technology. He is survived by his wife, Lucy A. Anich, MAT’70; a sister; and a brother.

Martin Stern, MBA’72, died October 13 in Highland Park, IL. He was 72. A real estate executive, Stern worked for several companies in Chicago before he joined US Equities Realty, becoming executive vice president and managing director. Among other projects with the firm, he led the development team behind the Harold Washington Library. After the firm’s acquisition by Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis, Stern continued as head of real estate advisory services, a position he held at his death. He is survived by his wife, Devi; two daughters; his father; and a sister.

Shelley Y. Kaplan, AB’73, of Chicago, died of cancer July 11, 2018. She was 67. Kaplan earned a law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law and led an eclectic professional life. She independently published a number of children’s books, did publicity work as a professional clown, and for 15 years served as a patrol officer with the Chicago Police Department. Survivors include her husband, Robert W. Hutchison, LAB’66.

Marguerite M. Kelly, AB’75, MBA’78, of Harpswell, ME, died of complications from a bacterial infection April 11. She was 67. An accountant and financial adviser, Kelly worked as a senior audit manager at Deloitte, specializing in initial public offerings. With her husband, Anthony J. Barrett, AB’75, MBA’77, she lived in Cairo for several years and ran a nonprofit with the Egyptian minister of health to address low childhood cancer survival rates. Returning to the United States, Kelly and her husband moved into a trailer, traveled the country, and settled on Great Island in Harpswell, where she served as town treasurer until her death. Among other accomplishments, she guided the town through its first issuance of municipal bonds. She is survived by her husband, two sisters, and a brother.

Jami Dupre English, MST’78, of Chicago, died April 7, 2019. He was 91. As a Black US Army corporal and drill sergeant in the 1940s, English trained White troops prior to President Harry Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces. After pursuing an initial civilian career in business, he spent many years teaching science, math, and social studies in the Chicago Public Schools. He also served as an acting assistant principal and on the Chicago Board of Education. In retirement he ran a photography and videography business, Pretty Pictures. He is survived by his wife, Thelma; four daughters; a son; a sister; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Kenneth A. Taylor, PhD’84, died of a probable heart attack December 2 in Los Altos, CA. He was 65. A Stanford University philosophy professor, Taylor served as department chair and specialized in the philosophy of language and mind. He helped revamp Stanford’s symbolic systems program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate major, and codirected the school’s public humanities program. He also cofounded and cohosted the internationally syndicated public radio show Philosophy Talk. He is survived by his wife, Claire S. Yoshida, AM’81; a son; his parents; a sister; and a brother.

Robert Pfeffer, AB’89 (Class of 1988), JD’95, of Dallas, died February 3, 2019. He was 52. In addition to his bachelor’s in economics and his JD from UChicago, Pfeffer earned a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from Oxford University. He practiced law with Wall Street firms in New York City and with litigation firms in Dallas. Managing Carrell Blanton Ferris & Associates’ Dallas office, he specialized in commercial, constitutional, and criminal litigation. Pfeffer also held several academic appointments, teaching at the University of Mississippi School of Law, the University of Alabama School of Law, and elsewhere. Survivors include his wife, Alicia.


Patrick J. Nestor, AB’90, died January 7 in Seattle of injuries from a car accident. He was 51. Nestor did his medical internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at Washington University in St. Louis, he treated patients at cancer centers in coastal Washington. He is survived by his wife, Linda; a daughter; three sons; his mother and father; and a sister.

James W. Perling, MBA’96, of Bernardsville, NJ, died after a long illness July 23, 2019. He was 60. Perling worked as a chemical engineer for the manufacturers Rohm and Hass and Morton International. After moving into sales at Morton, he earned his MBA and began consulting with Peace Works, where he became director of finance and business development. He then joined the building solutions division of Dow Chemical (later DuPont), working with architects and real estate developers in the New York City area. A skilled carpenter, he rehabilitated local residential properties in his spare time. He is survived by his wife, Christina Thompson-Perling; two sons; two sisters; and a brother.

Luba O. Waszczur-Sandoval, AB’99, of Bensenville, IL, died April 27. She was 43. As a French major in the College, Waszczur-Sandoval studied for a year at the Université de Paris. After working as a project coordinator for a language interpretation and translation services provider, she became a recruiter for a Chicago-area retail services company. She is survived by her husband, Jose; a son; and her parents.


Kevin L. Morris, JD’02, died of complications from brain cancer November 10 in Downers Grove, IL. He was 46. Morris earned an MBA and worked as director of fiscal management and planning at Illinois State University. Returning to school, he started his law career as a summer associate in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, where he went on to become partner and spent the rest of his career. Known for representing large private equity firms, he specialized in acquisitions, joint ventures, and other complex business transactions. He is survived by his wife, Tonya; a son; his father and stepmother; two sisters; and a brother.


Clancy S. Taylor, AB’16, AM’17, of Houston, died May 16 at age 25. Taylor earned a second master’s degree at Rice University in the course of pursuing a PhD in English. Specializing in comparative modernist literature and continental philosophy, Taylor served as a fellow with the scholarly journal Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, participated on a grant-funded team developing a course on race making in the Middle Ages, and appeared on panels at national literary conferences. Survivors include parents and maternal and paternal grandparents.


Elle T. D’Amore, Class of 2022 in the Law School, of Chicago, died of a brain seizure May 26. She was 26. With an undergraduate degree in philosophy and psychology, D’Amore spent four years as a paralegal before entering the Law School. A member of the Law Women’s Caucus, the Hemingway Society, and the Impact Initiative, she was elected to serve as a 2L class representative for the coming academic year and was chosen to be an Autumn Quarter orientation leader. She is survived by her parents, two brothers, and her maternal grandmother.