University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

Frank W. Fitch, MD’53, SM’57, PhD’60, the Albert D. Lasker Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology and the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, died April 2 in Chicago. He was 91. A leader in the field of cellular immunology, Fitch joined the UChicago faculty soon after completing his graduate training and taught for more than four decades. During his time at UChicago Medicine, he served as an associate dean of the medical school, cofounded the Committee on Immunology, and directed what was then the Ben May Institute. Among other accomplishments, he pioneered the cloning of T cells and the differentiation of T cell types, both fundamental tools in immunology research, and helped develop the first monoclonal antibodies for breast cancer diagnosis. Soon after reaching emeritus status, he became editor in chief of the Journal of Immunology, serving from 1997 to 2002. His honors include the American Association of Immunologists’ Excellence in Mentoring Award and UChicago’s Norman Maclean Faculty Award. He is survived by daughter Peggy Fitch Rubenstein, LAB’73; a son; a brother; and three grandchildren.

Max S. Bell, AM’58, MAT’59, professor emeritus in the Social Sciences Division, of Pacific Grove, CA, died March 6. He was 90. A curriculum developer who believed that mathematics education could help form active citizens, Bell took dual appointments at the Laboratory Schools and the former Graduate School of Education in 1960, remaining on the UChicago faculty for the rest of his career. In 1985 he and his wife, Jean F. Bell, MST’78, began developing the K–6 curriculum eventually published as Everyday Mathematics, since used by tens of millions of students. He and his wife also supported the creation of the center now known as UChicago STEM Education, devoted to research and development in precollege science, technology, engineering, and mathematics instruction. He is survived by his wife; four children, including Erin Bell, LAB’76; and seven grandchildren, including Philip B. Adams, SB’21, SM’21.

Marshall D. Sahlins, the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, died April 5 in Chicago. He was 90. One of the world’s leading anthropologists, Sahlins taught at the University of Michigan before coming to UChicago in 1973. Studying Pacific Island communities in Hawaii and Fiji, he argued for the uniqueness of non-Western modes of thought and maintained that Western scholars could understand them. A prominent activist, in the 1960s he devised the teach-in as a form of nonviolent antiwar protest and helped it become a national phenomenon. His many books include Stone Age Economics (1972), which advanced the influential idea that hunter-gatherers represent the original affluent society, and Islands of History (1985), which reworked the theory of structuralism to account for history and human agency. Among many honors, Sahlins received the French Ministry of Culture’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two daughters, Julie S. Sahlins, LAB’74, and Elaine Sahlins, LAB’78; a son, Peter Sahlins, LAB’75; and three grandchildren.

Victor Barcilon, professor emeritus in the Department of Geophysical Sciences, of Louisville, CO, died April 15, 2020. He was 81. An applied mathematician who made contributions to meteorology and oceanography, Barcilon joined the UChicago faculty after posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles. Noted for his use of asymptotic analysis, he worked extensively on topics in fluid mechanics, such as how lava forms new seafloor crusts following underwater volcanic eruptions. He also coauthored research that informed the present understanding of how Antarctic ice streams factor into possible sea level rise. Barcilon later turned his mathematical modeling toward the study of the electrical movements inside cells. Survivors include his wife, Danielle, and a daughter, Audrey Barcilon Seybold, LAB’80.

Adam Zagajewski, the Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, died March 21 in Kraków, Poland. He was 75. Born in what was then Lwów, Poland, Zagajewski became a leading dissident writer in the Polish New Wave movement, publishing poetry the communist authorities banned in 1975. Immigrating to Paris seven years later, he won international recognition as a poet and essayist through widely translated Polish-language works combining history, spirituality, and personal experience. A translation of his poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” published in the New Yorker in the wake of 9/11, brought him renown among US readers. He first came to UChicago as a visiting professor in 2007, receiving his distinguished service appointment four years later. Zagajewski received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among many other honors. Survivors include his wife, Maja Wodecka, and his sister.

Lauren Berlant, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in English, died of cancer June 28 at age 63 in Chicago. A preeminent cultural theorist and literary scholar, Berlant came to UChicago in 1984 and remained on the faculty for more than three decades. The expert on 19th- and 20th-century American writers expanded an early focus on historical fiction into a broader examination of literature and culture’s role in forging bonds between individuals and such collective forms as the nation. Berlant’s national sentimentality trilogy—The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life (1991); The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997); and The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008)—analyzed a range of media to understand the relationship between public life and people’s own attachments. A later work, Cruel Optimism (2011), influenced readers inside and outside the academy by focusing on how those attachments can undermine happiness. A founding figure in the field of affect theory, Berlant received numerous honors, including the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and is survived by partner Ian Horswill, a brother, and a sister.


Violet Knecht Schmidt, SM’47, of New York City, died December 6. She was 98. With her master’s in biology, Schmidt taught high school science in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly four decades. She met her husband, a chemistry teacher, at a school faculty picnic. She is survived by extended family, including Judith Franzetti Knecht, SB’61, PhD’66, and Mary Knecht Shepard, AB’89.


Thomas F. Broden Jr., JD’50, died November 20 in South Bend, IN. He was 96. Broden, who held a bachelor of laws degree from Notre Dame Law School, joined its faculty after earning his JD. Spending his career there, he established a legal aid program, which became a model of clinical education for many US law schools, and served for two decades as director of the university’s urban studies program. Dedicated to public service, he worked as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee, acting as staff attorney in charge of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He later directed training and technical assistance for the US Office of Economic Opportunity. He is survived by two daughters, three sons, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Nancy Bogue Rose, AB’54, of Chicago, died September 11, 2020. She was 85. Rose received a full scholarship at age 16 to attend UChicago, and stayed on after graduation to study mathematics. Instead of taking a second degree, she married and remained in Hyde Park–Kenwood to raise her family. A lifelong fiber artist, Rose traveled the country attending workshops and conferences on weaving, dyeing, and spinning. She is survived by a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren.

Peter P. Remec, PhD’56, died November 2 in New York City. He was 95. Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Remec fled with his family to Graz, Austria, after World War II. He earned doctorates in law and political science from the University of Graz and then left for the United States on a US Navy transport ship authorized to carry immigrants. After meeting UChicago political scientist Hans Morgenthau, Remec embarked on his PhD in international relations at the University. He went on to teach political science for 50 years at Fordham University, where he served as department chair. An expert in international law, Remec was named an observer to the United Nations mission of the Holy See, for which he was honored as a papal knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He is survived by a daughter, three sons, two brothers, and seven grandchildren.

Raymond L. Schwinn, MD’59, died February 3 in Marble Falls, TX. He was 91. Completing his medical internship and residency as a US Navy lieutenant at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA, Schwinn did tours of duty with the Military Sea Transportation Service in the Pacific and at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. Trained in radiological and nuclear medicine at what is now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he then treated marines and sailors at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton until his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1967. For many years thereafter Schwinn practiced as a radiologist in Los Gatos, CA. He is survived by three daughters, a sister, nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.


Richard Paul Baepler, PhD’64, died November 19 in Valparaiso, IN. He was 90. An ordained minister in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Baepler served a church in Valparaiso before continuing his theological education, first in Germany and then earning a doctorate from the UChicago Divinity School. After chairing the theology department at Valparaiso University, he became founding dean of Christ College, Valparaiso’s honors college, and later served as the university’s vice president for academic affairs. Baepler also taught legal history at Valparaiso’s law school and in retirement published several books, including a history of the university. He is survived by a daughter, a son, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

James B. Cloonan, MBA’64, died November 28 in Paradise Valley, AZ. He was 89. A market research expert and an early advocate for individuals as managers of their own investment portfolios, Cloonan taught marketing and quantitative methods at DePaul University before serving as chief executive of Heinold Securities, a brokerage firm he helped establish. He went on to found the Chicago-based American Association of Individual Investors, an investor education nonprofit. As president and later board chair, he wrote regularly for the association’s AAII Journal and served on such industry and regulatory panels as the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Consumer Affairs Advisory Committee, retiring in 2018. He is survived by his wife, Edythe; three daughters, including Michele V. Cloonan, AM’79; a son; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Kathrine Clark Miller Reed, AB’64, of Salem, OR, died July 9, 2020. She was 79. Reed completed the final year of her bachelor’s in sociology and then started a master’s in library science at UChicago following a year in Calcutta, India, with her husband, Wallace E. Reed, AB’59, PhD’67, for his geography doctoral research. After starting a family and spending another year in India, she and her husband established careers at the University of Virginia, where she rose to become a senior administrator. Serving for two decades as associate provost for management, she helped oversee budgets for every unit but the medical school. In retirement she ran a Salem neighborhood association, working on land use planning and park improvements. She is survived by her husband; a daughter, Lynn Reed-Povlsen, AB’88; a son; and two grandchildren.

Daniel J. Hurst, MD’67, died December 7 in Winston-Salem, NC. He was 78. After completing his fellowship in pulmonary internal medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, Hurst was a physician for a decade at the University of Missouri’s medical school and hospital system. He then practiced internal medicine at Novant Health Winston-Salem Health Care until his retirement. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; a daughter; a son; a sister; a brother; and two grandchildren.


Sandra Klubeck, AM’70, died June 7, 2020, in Wildomar, CA. She was 73. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice (formerly the School of Social Service Administration), Klubeck specialized in social work and mental health services for young people and families. Starting as a staff therapist at the Institute for Juvenile Research, she became the institute’s director of social work training, and ultimately oversaw most of its clinical services as director of the community children’s services program. One of the first staff members hired to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, she went on to direct the agency. She later consulted on public policy related to mental health. She is survived by her husband, James Everett Jr.; two daughters; five stepdaughters; 16 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Leanne H. Star, EX’70, AM’71, of Wilmette, IL, died January 23. She was 72. Star attended the College, finished her bachelor’s at the University of California, Berkeley, and then returned to UChicago to earn her master’s in comparative literature. She taught literature and writing at Beloit College, Colby College, and universities in Taiwan and China, later working as a freelance writer for Northwestern University and other organizations. A docent for the Chicago Architecture Center, she led groups on the popular river cruise tour and trained new volunteers. She is survived by her fiancé, John D’Asto; three daughters, including Maia Feigon, AB’98; three sisters; a brother; and six grandchildren.

Richard L. Fenton, AB’75, JD’78, of Highland Park, IL, died April 24. He was 67. Fenton was a partner at the law firm Dentons, spending more than four decades on the Chicago litigation team specializing in commercial, insurance, real estate, and business disputes. He also chaired the firm’s national appellate practice. In addition to his legal work, Fenton was the first board president of North Shore School District 112 and a national board member of the Anti-Defamation League. He is survived by his wife, Judith Alsofrom Fenton, AB’73; two daughters, including Leslie M. Fenton, AB’02; a son; and a brother.


Anne E. Powers, AM’88, of Cincinnati, died February 21 of a grade 4 glioblastoma. She was 55. Powers received her master’s degree in English at UChicago. Her essay on Milton’s Paradise Lost earned the Jonathan D. Steiner Prize for outstanding work in the study of drama or criticism. She went on to pursue a career in the information technology field, working as a technical writer and business analyst. Powers served ultimately as lead business analyst at Fifth Third Bank, where she oversaw multimillion-dollar strategic projects and cochaired an employee engagement committee. She is survived by two daughters, her parents, and two brothers.


Ilan M. Naibryf, Class of 2022, died June 24 in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, FL. He was 21. A physics major with a minor in molecular engineering, Naibryf cofounded the start-up STIX Financial, a finalist in the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s 2021 College New Venture Challenge for its pitch of a stock-linked debit card. He worked on campus as a software specialist for the Computer Science Instructional Laboratory and as a design engineer for UChicago Medicine, where he collaborated with a radiologist on a head-and-neck medical imaging technology. Naibryf also served as president of the Chabad House student board and played recreational soccer. He is survived by his parents and two sisters, including Tali M. Naibryf, AB’19, AM’19.

Max Solomon Lewis, Class of 2023, died July 4 in Chicago after being shot during his commute on a Chicago Transit Authority train. Double majoring in economics and computer science, Lewis was a summer intern at the investment firm Segall Bryant & Hamill in the Loop. On campus he was treasurer of Promontory Investment Research, a student organization that develops and publishes equity reports by undergraduate research analysts, and served as president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Remembered as a devoted friend who supported his fraternity brothers through the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis was an avid runner and a car enthusiast. He is survived by his parents and a brother.