University of Chicago obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

George S. Tolley, AM’50, PhD’55, professor emeritus in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, of Chicago, died August 31. He was 95. Part of a prominent group of agricultural economists during his PhD years at UChicago, Tolley later became a pioneer in urban, environmental, and energy economics. After more than a decade at North Carolina State University, he returned to UChicago in 1966 for the remainder of his career, establishing urban economics as an area of study within the economics department and directing UChicago’s Center for Urban Studies. His estimates regarding urban and environmental amenities and health care improvements proved influential in the public policy arena. A consultant with government agencies at all levels beginning in the 1960s, he helped design the Clean Air Act. Taking emeritus status in 2000, Tolley continued teaching until 2018. He is survived by his wife, Alice; a daughter, Catherine F. Mertes, LAB’87; and two grandchildren.

R. Darrell Bock, AM’50, PhD’52, professor emeritus in the Departments of Psychology and Comparative Human Development, died September 15 in Chicago. He was 93. With his graduate degrees in educational practice, Bock served as a psychology assistant in the US Army before returning to UChicago in 1955 to teach in the psychology department for three years. After six years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he rejoined the UChicago faculty in 1964. A leader and innovator in educational testing and metrics, Bock authored the influential Multivariate Statistical Methods in Behavioral Research (1975) and founded what is now known as the Committee on Quantitative Methods in Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences. His 2021 book Item Response Theory, cowritten with UChicago statistician Robert Gibbons, PhD’81, brought together decades of research on the subject. He is survived by his wife, Renee Menegaz-Bock; a daughter; two sons; and six grandchildren.

Selwyn W. Becker, professor emeritus of psychology and quality management at Chicago Booth, died June 15 in Glenview, IL. He was 92. With a doctorate in psychology, Becker joined Chicago Booth’s faculty in 1959 and taught at the school for three and a half decades. A social psychologist, he frequently focused on human behavior in his research on management and innovation in businesses. In an influential 1967 paper coauthored with late Chicago Booth professor of business policy Thomas L. Whisler, MBA’47, PhD’53, Becker helped define the business concept of innovation as a process distinct from organizational change and adaptation. After retiring in 1996, he published Teenagers’ Dilemmas and Opportunities: A Social Psychologist Writes to His Grandchildren (2003), a book meant to model family conversations. He is survived by a daughter, two sons, a brother, and five grandchildren.

Jaroslav Stetkevych, professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, died June 12 in Washington, DC. He was 92. A Ukrainian-born refugee who lived in Germany during and after World War II, Stetkevych received his PhD from Harvard’s Semitic languages and literatures department in 1962. He joined UChicago’s faculty that same year. An expert in Arabic linguistics and Semitic philology, he made significant contributions to the study of the Arabic poetic tradition in such scholarly works as The Zephyrs of Najd: The Poetics of Nostalgia in the Classical Arabic Nasīb (1993) and Arab Poetry and Orientalism (2004). In 2019, with his wife, Suzanne P. Stetkevych, PhD’81, he received the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Cultural Personality of the Year, one of the Arab world’s top literary and cultural prizes. He is survived by his wife; five sons, including Julian A. Stetkevych, AB’00; and five grandchildren.

Martha Morrow-Vojacek, a retired University of Chicago staff member, died June 20 in Oak Park, IL. She was 85. Morrow-Vojacek, who held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Roosevelt University, retired in 1998 after two decades as an administrative assistant at the Divinity School and International House. A piano player since childhood, she sang with and sewed costumes for the UChicago-affiliated Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. With her husband, Joseph R. Vojacek, AM’64, she collected antique Americana and went on extensive road trips in search of the pieces they treasured. She is survived by her husband, three daughters, and two grandchildren.

Michael J. Murrin, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of English, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Divinity School, died July 27 in Chicago. He was 83. Teaching at UChicago since 1963, Murrin was an authority on the literary genres of epic and romance across the Western tradition and on the history of criticism. With mastery of languages including Italian and Old Norse, he taught courses on the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern age; cofounded the Core curriculum course in Greek thought and literature; and contributed to what is now the Divinity School’s religion, literature, and visual culture program. His first book, The Veil of Allegory: Some Notes Toward a Theory of Allegorical Rhetoric in the English Renaissance (1969), situated Edmund Spen- ser with the ancients and the Romantics. His last, Trade and Romance (2013), earned him the American Comparative Literature Association’s René Wellek Prize. Murrin’s other honors include the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Norman Maclean Faculty Award. He is survived by a brother.

Hugo F. Sonnenschein, the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the University of Chicago’s 11th president, and an honorary trustee, died July 15 in Chicago. He was 80. An economist, Sonnenschein taught and held leadership positions at universities including Penn and Princeton before becoming UChicago’s president in 1993. Leading the University through a period of transformation and renewal, he confronted long-standing financial challenges by spearheading a set of sometimes-controversial institutional changes. His plan to increase enrollment in the College involved scaling back the required credits of the Core curriculum and making numerous enhancements to student life. During his presidency, UChicago concluded what was then its largest-ever fundraising campaign and more than doubled its endowment. After stepping down as president in 2000, he returned to teaching and research. Nine years later Sonnenschein received a BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for his contributions to general equilibrium analysis and for establishing modern aggregate demand theory. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Gunn Sonnenschein; three daughters; and five grandchildren, including Halima Mossi, LAB’16. For more about Sonnenschein, see “Change Agent.”

Noel M. Swerdlow, professor emeritus in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Department of History, and the College, died July 24 in Sierra Madre, CA. He was 79. A historian of science, Swerdlow came to UChicago in 1968 as an assistant professor of history; in 1982 he joined the faculty in astronomy and astrophysics as the department’s only historian. Studying the development of astronomy from antiquity to the Renaissance, he gained prominence as the world’s leading authority on Ptolemy and Copernicus. His coauthored two-volume treatise Mathematical Astronomy in Copernicus’s “De Revolutionibus” (1984) won the Pfizer Award, the History of Science Society’s highest honor for a scholarly work. A MacArthur Fellowship recipient, he also wrote The Babylonian Theory of the Planets (1998), in which he traced the origins of astronomy as a mathematical science. He is survived by his wife, Nadia; a son; a brother; and a granddaughter.

Robert K. Ritner Jr., PhD’87, the Rowe Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute and in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, died of kidney disease and leukemia July 25 in Chicago. He was 68. His book The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (1993), based on his UChicago dissertation, launched a renaissance in the study of ancient Egyptian religion and magic. After teaching at Yale University for several years, Ritner returned to UChicago in 1996. He produced a volume of Egyptian texts created during Libyan rule in the first millennium BCE that has become a standard reference work and an edition of Joseph Smith’s Egyptian papyri that is important to debates within and beyond Mormonism. Skilled at drawing popular audiences to Egyptology, Ritner was a frequent public speaker and exhibitions contributor at the OI and other museums. He and his dog, Sheshonq, could be sighted on campus each Halloween dressed as mummies or pharaohs. Ritner is survived by a brother.


Carl M. Honzak, AM’42, AB’78, of Tarrytown, NY, died January 16. He was 102. Honzak studied music at UChicago, receiving his master’s before his bachelor’s because he couldn’t afford the diploma fees for both. A singer and actor, he appeared on The Martha Raye Show and Sid Caesar’s Caesar’s Hour. In the 1950s, he sang in the Metropolitan Opera’s chorus. Later he founded the electrical consulting company Honzak and Honzak. He is survived by his wife, Diane Colin; a daughter; a son; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Saul Levin, AB’42, PhD’49, died March 4 in Chandler, AZ. He was 99. Between receiving his bachelor’s degree and earning his doctorate in Greek, Levin served in the US Army Signal Corps during World War II. He taught at UChicago and Washington University in St. Louis before joining the faculty of Binghamton University, where he spent the rest of his career. Chairing the classics department several times over the course of nearly four decades, he rose to the rank of distinguished professor and helped found what is now the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Levin published widely in historical linguistics, biblical studies, and other fields. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; four daughters; two sons; six grandchildren; and a step-grandchild.

Ruth Chapin Fort, AB’45, died April 28 in Chevy Chase, MD. She was 97. In the 1970s Fort served at the Center for Study of Responsive Law as executive assistant to founder Ralph Nader, who called her his “Rock of Gibraltar” for her role in fielding calls from student interns, congressional staffers, and whistleblowers. She later worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Pension Rights Center, and other public interest organizations in the Washington, DC, area. A lifelong advocate for civil rights and liberties, she received an ACLU award for exemplary volunteer service in 2004. She is survived by her husband, Arthur E. “Ted” Rowse III; three children; and two grandchildren.

Richard M. Daskais, PhB’47, SB’48, died October 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. He was 90. Daskais grew up in Hyde Park and entered UChicago at age 16 on a scholarship. With degrees in philosophy and mathematics, he embarked on a career as an actuary. After working for an insurance company in San Francisco, he cofounded an actuarial consulting firm, which he and a partner ran for nearly two decades. Daskais played a prominent role in the actuarial profession as private pension plans evolved under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. He joined Goldman Sachs in the later part of his career and remained with them as a consultant into the 1990s. He is survived by two daughters, including Carol Daskais Navin, MBA’90; a stepdaughter; a son; two stepsons; and eight grandchildren.

Marvin Rose, PhB’48, MBA’51, died February 12 in Evanston, IL. He was 95. A World War II US Army Air Force veteran, Rose spent his career working for several accounting firms in Chicago. He also served as treasurer of his condominium association. In retirement he volunteered as a speaker to heart patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, tutored students in math after school at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, and aided veterinarians at the Anti-Cruelty Society. He is survived by his wife, Beverly (Segal) Rose, AB’50; one son; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.


Gwendolyn D. Rogers, AM’53, died August 22 in Chicago. She was 90. A teacher and advocate for public education, Rogers earned her master’s in education while holding an assistantship at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She taught prekindergarten and grade school in the Chicago Public Schools before becoming a curriculum consultant for the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program. After earning a doctorate in educational psychology, she led the Chicago Urban League’s education department, where she helped draft the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act. Rogers later directed external affairs for the Chicago Park District, receiving the agency’s Kathy Osterman Award for outstanding executive employee. Her second husband, John W. Rogers, JD’48, died in 2014. Survivors include a stepson, UChicago trustee John W. Rogers Jr., LAB’76; and granddaughter Victoria Rogers, LAB’08.

Joseph L. Midler, AB’56, AM’59, died February 17 in Sunnyvale, CA. He was 86. After starting at Shimer College, Midler completed his bachelor’s in philosophy and math at UChicago and stayed on to earn his master’s in economics. While pursuing a doctorate in economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he took a job with the RAND Corporation, launching a career as an expert in operations research and management science. Working with the US Department of Commerce, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other institutions, Midler built mathematical models for a range of applications, including transportation and water usage, military airlift deployment, and aerospace development. His first wife, Joan Bayles Midler, AB’57, died in 1984. He is survived by his daughter, Anne E. Midler, AB’80, and two grandchildren.

Elizabeth McCabe Postell, AB’56, AM’58, of Evanston, IL, died November 6, 2020. She was 95. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, Postell taught literature at Indiana University’s Gary campus, where she met her future husband, John M. Postell, EX’57. Settling in Hyde Park, the couple became politically active, campaigning for fifth ward aldermanic candidate Al Raby, EX’69, and Chicago mayor Harold Washington. An avid gardener, she served the Herb Society of America at its local and national levels and for more than two decades chaired the Hyde Park Garden Fair. Her husband died in 1991. She later moved to Evanston and spent her last years writing her memoirs as well as fiction.

Jean R. Eckerly, SB’58, MD’62, died May 1 in Edina, MN. She was 83. After completing her internship and residency at Minneapolis General Hospital and receiving her certification in internal medicine, Eckerly worked at Pilot City Health Center, created as part of a Great Society neighborhood service program in Minneapolis. She later ran an alternative medicine practice in the Twin Cities and Albert Lea, MN, and helped found Sagaris, a women’s collective providing mental health services to women from a feminist perspective. Remembered as a physician who put the needs and fair treatment of patients first, Eckerly was also a skilled carpenter and enjoyed camping and canoeing. She is survived by a sister and many friends.

Mildred Hallett Myren, AM’58, CER’75, of Oak Lawn, IL, died February 1. She was 85. Myren joined the staff of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago in the late 1970s, eventually becoming executive minister. Ordained in the American Baptist Churches USA, she also served as interim minister of Morgan Park Baptist Church, where she was a lifelong member. She is survived by a daughter, a son, a sister, and 12 grandchildren.

Charles E. Colchin, MBA’59, died July 4, 2020, in The Woodlands, TX. He was 90. Colchin worked as a draftsman at an architectural company in his native Fort Wayne, IN, and served in the US Air Force before earning his bachelor’s and his MBA. One of the first designated chartered financial analysts in the United States, he spent three decades at NationsBank, retiring as a vice president of trust portfolio management. He is survived by two daughters, two stepdaughters, a stepson, and a grandchild.

Stefanie Krainin Greene, SB’59, of Takoma Park, MD, died December 16, 2020. She was 83. With an MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Greene interned at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital and completed her residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center. After a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at George Washington University, she went on to practice as a psychiatrist for four decades in suburban Washington, DC. She is survived by two daughters, three stepchildren, a brother, and five grandchildren.


Alan S. Berger, AB’62, AM’63, PhD’68, of Chicago, died June 6. He was 81. Berger earned his UChicago degrees in sociology, carrying out graduate work on survey research design and analysis while on staff at the National Opinion Research Center. He conducted research on adolescent behavior for the Institute for Juvenile Research, then part of the Illinois Department of Mental Health. After serving as acting director of youth services for the City of Chicago Department of Human Services, where he instituted the agency’s first computerized case-tracking system, Berger moved to DHS’s planning division. He went on to start a computer consulting company. The author of the textbook The City: Urban Communities and Their Problems (1978), Berger taught college courses in sociology and computing. Survivors include his wife, Paula S. Berger, AB’61, AM’76, AM’87, PhD’94; and a daughter, Sheila R. Berger, LAB’89.

Richard S. Levy, AB’62, died June 23 in Chicago. He was 81. A preeminent historian of modern Germany, the Holocaust, and worldwide anti-Semitism, Levy taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before beginning his nearly 50-year career at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He earned early acclaim with his monograph The Downfall of the Anti-Semitic Political Parties in Imperial Germany (1975) and edited Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution (2005), a standard text in the field. Noted for his mentorship, he was the longtime director of undergraduate studies in UIC’s history department and won several teaching awards from the school. Survivors include his wife, Linnea, and a brother.

Michael L. Moran, AM’65, of Fort Collins, CO, died April 24, 2020. He was 90. Moran spent three years as a Benedictine seminarian and monk before earning his master’s in library science. He worked as a librarian at the University of Cincinnati, Colorado State University, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His writings on librarianship focused on acquisitions and appeared in numerous professional journals. Moran also wrote extensively about religion. He is survived by his wife, Frances; a daughter; a son; and a grandchild.

Richard L. Wilson, AB’66, died March 22 in Chattanooga, TN. He was 76. Wilson earned a doctorate in political science from Johns Hopkins University and taught the subject over a period of 50 years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He was teaching at Beijing University on a Fulbright scholarship when the Tiananmen Square protests erupted in 1989. Back in Chattanooga, he turned a home near the campus into a haven for international students and foreign-exchange faculty members. Wilson wrote and edited numerous scholarly works on American government, American business, and Chinese culture. He is survived by a son, a sister, a brother, and two grandchildren.


Sushil Auluck, SM’70, PhD’73, of New Delhi, died December 8, 2020. He was 76. A computational materials scientist, Auluck taught physics briefly at the University of Arizona before returning to his native India, where he spent more than three decades on the physics faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, specializing in condensed matter theory and working on electronic structure calculations. After retiring from IIT Roorkee, Auluck was a consultant in research and development at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–National Physical Laboratory. Survivors include his wife, Sneh, and two sons.

Edward Carr, AM’72, PhD’75, died January 8 in Walla Walla, WA. He was 74. A member of the Wenatchee (WA) Youth Circus as a youngster, Carr studied philosophy at Whitman College and earned his UChicago degrees in the same field, focusing on aesthetics. He then moved back to Washington, living on Orcas Island, training as a carpenter, and building a home for himself and his family. After earning a second master’s in architecture from the University of Washington, he established an architectural firm in Seattle that specialized in waterfront homes. Carr designed houses that can be found throughout the San Juan Islands and around Puget Sound. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; two sons; three stepsisters; two stepbrothers; and three grandchildren.

Marianne “Mary” C. Mahoney, AM’73, PhD’77, of Austin, TX, died December 15, 2020. She was 70. With her doctorate in political science, Mahoney taught at several universities before pursuing a career as a technical writer. Involved in numerous Catholic charity projects, she also taught Sunday school and catechism classes. She is survived by a daughter.

Patricia Cummings Charles, AB’74, of Kansas City, MO, died September 7, 2020. She was 68. Charles spent her career in publishing, working as managing editor at the scholarly press Garland Publishing Company and later as editor in chief of the University of Hartford’s alumni magazine. In retirement she moved to Kansas City, near her childhood hometown, to be close to family and to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in the city’s Plaza Area. She is survived by her partner, John Quinn; a daughter; and a brother.

Laura A. (Rosenblum) Tanz, LAB’66, EX’74, of Minneapolis, died July 18, 2020. She was 71. A former student in what is now known as the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, Tanz went on to a career as a social worker in the Minneapolis Public Schools. An avid reader and talented cook, she participated in multiple book clubs and is remembered as the host of popular holiday gatherings for family and friends. She is survived by her husband, Mark L. Tanz, LAB’65, AB’69; two sons; two sisters, Susan (Rosenblum) Levitin, LAB’58, and Mary J. (Rosenblum) Briggs, LAB’64; and two grandchildren.


Vivienne Jane Kattapong, AB’82, AM’84, died of melanoma June 26, 2020, in Tucson, AZ. She was 58. In addition to her undergraduate degree in biology and her master of arts from the Harris School of Public Policy, Kattapong earned an MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch and a master of public health from the University of Washington. She worked as a neurologist for the State of Arizona’s Social Security office. Active in the UChicago community, Kattapong interviewed prospective students and planned events for alumni in southern Arizona. She is survived by four children, including Ione L. Locher, AB’15; a sister, Kristi R. Kattapong, AB’90, AM’94; and a brother.

Alec Edwin Forsman, AB’87, died January 23 in Washington, DC. He was 58. Paralyzed at 18, Forsman is thought to have been the first person with quadriplegia to graduate from UChicago. A math major, he went on to a government career as a computer specialist in the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). He earned a master’s in computer information systems and led the Atlantic Test Range photogrammetrics team. A nationally recognized expert in his field, Forsman was named a NAVAIR full fellow and received the Outstanding Department of Defense Service Members and Civilians with a Disability Award. He is survived by his parents, a sister, and a brother.


Harry L. Stern, AM’91, of Lake Forest, IL, died November 14, 2020. He was 90. For more than half a century Stern devoted himself to a career as an antiquarian book and map dealer. He earned his UChicago master’s in history at age 61 with a thesis on the University’s special collections and rare books. Never retired, he was conducting appraisals until 10 days before his death. He is survived by his wife, Petrea Rahr Stern; three children; two stepchildren; three brothers; five grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.

Douglas A. Funke, AB’93, died after a brief illness November 21, 2020, in Cliffside Park, NJ. He was 49. With his bachelor’s in economics, Funke joined the investment banking firm Morgan Stanley, working first in the treasury department and then as the first analyst in the firm’s real estate division. An early buy-side analyst in the then-emerging field of real estate investment trusts, he became a managing director at Forum Partners before establishing his own firm. Alongside his career in real estate investments, Funke was co-owner of a Chicago-area Korean chicken franchise. He is survived by three daughters, his parents, a sister, and two brothers.