Shutsung Liao, PhD’61 (left), and Rory W. Childers (right). (University of Chicago News Office)

University obituaries
Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

Rory W. Childers, professor of medicine, died August 27 in Southampton, NY. He was 83. An expert on use of the electrocardiogram (ECG) and interpretation of its results, Childers pioneered the use of ECGs in ambulances so that patients could receive treatment more quickly and was at the forefront of computerizing the diagnosis of disorders detected by the test. In 2011 he was elected president of the International Society of Computerized Electrocardiology. Childers won the Teacher of the Year Award from the Pritzker School of Medicine’s Cardiology Section so often that in 2005 it was renamed the Rory Childers Teaching Award. He is survived by his wife, Michele, and two sons, including Daniel A. Childers, LAB’84.

Shutsung Liao, PhD’61, died July 20 in Chicago. He was 83. Professor emeritus in UChicago’s Ben May Department for Cancer Research, Liao was a pioneering biochemist whose discoveries included how male hormones influence the development of prostate cancer. The first director of the Tang Center for Chinese Herbal Medicine Research, he founded the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association. Liao published more than 250 papers, was awarded 29 patents, and won many professional honors, including being named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is survived by his wife, Shuching; four daughters, Jane Liao, LAB’80, Tzufen Liao, LAB’81, Tzuming Liao, LAB’83, and May Liao, LAB’85; and two granddaughters.

Brenton Wright, AB’10, master electrician at Court Theatre, died August 7 in Bishop, CA, of injuries sustained in a climbing accident. He was 27. Wright began working as an electrician and sound designer in high school; as an undergraduate, he was a technician at Mandel Hall and worked as a sound engineer and lighting director for events around Chicago.


Margaret Janssen King, AB’40, of Kingshill, Virgin Islands, died August 13. She was 96. In the late 1960s, King and her family moved to the Virgin Islands, where she was the first woman named an assistant manager in the Bank of America’s international division. She was active in the Business and Professional Women’s Club and taught business classes at the College of the Virgin Islands (now the University of the Virgin Islands). Survivors include three daughters, a sister, two granddaughters, a grandson, and three great-grandchildren.

John W. Cashman, AB’44, MD’46, died October 18, 2013, in Tacoma, WA. He was 90. During Cashman’s 46-year career, he served as deputy medical director of the Peace Corps and as assistant surgeon general of the United States, achieving the rank of rear admiral in the US Public Health Service. Among his achievements were helping to create federal regulations for nursing home and mining safety, and helping to establish the Medicare program. He is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Donald Edwin Funk, SB’44, died December 24, 2013, in Willow Grove, PA. He was 91. A WW II Army Air Corps veteran, Funk practiced law for more than six decades, retiring in 2012. An avid traveler, he visited more than 40 countries. Survivors include his wife, Dorothy; a daughter; a son; and a grandson.

Richard Rider, AA’44, of Mill Valley, CA, died June 24. He was 90. Rider was a longtime general surgeon at Franklin Hospital (later known as Ralph K. Davies Hospital) in San Francisco and served as medical director of the Crossroads Home Care and Hospice facility. Rider specialized in caring for the elderly and homebound and was one of the physicians who treated the first patients diagnosed in the AIDS epidemic. He is survived by five children, a brother, and ten grandchildren.

Betty J. (Soderstrom) McHie, SB’45, died August 31 in Easton, MD. She was 91. A homemaker, McHie was a lifelong volunteer who gave a great deal of time to her church’s school program, altar guild, women’s circle, and community outreach; she also enjoyed reading, gardening, and crossword puzzles. She is survived by two daughters; two sons; a sister, Shirley Greene, PhB’46; four granddaughters; three grandsons; and three great-granddaughters.

Catherine (Kyros) Retson, AB’45, died July 22 in Appleton, WI. She was 91. Her first job was as an editor at Consolidated Publishing Company in Chicago. After moving to Wisconsin with her husband, she enjoyed travel in the United States, Europe, and North Africa and was a dedicated volunteer at her church. Survivors include three daughters; two sons; a brother, George Kyros, MBA’70; two sisters, including Carol Kyros-Walker, EX’56; and five grandchildren.

James A. Servies, PhB’45, AM’50, of Pensacola, FL, died May 30. He was 88. A veteran of the US Air Force and the US Army Counterintelligence Corps, Servies began a career in academic librarianship with a position as a stack boy at the University of Chicago Library in the early 1940s; he went on to positions at other institutions’ libraries and retired as director of libraries at the University of West Florida. He is survived by his wife, Lana; a daughter; two sons; a brother, David Lawrence Servies, AB’50, JD’57; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Charlotte (Bernth) Vikstrom, PhB’45, of Chicago, died August 8. She was 91. A respected mezzo-soprano, Vikstrom performed solos at UChicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, where her husband served as director of music, and at venues around Chicago. She worked in various offices at the University before opening a real estate office in Hyde Park, which she operated for 30 years. She is survived by two daughters, including Ann Vikstrom, LAB’78; son Carl Vikstrom, AB’69; and four grandchildren. Her husband, Richard E. Vikstrom, AA’36, AM’55, died in 1986. Her son Richard Andrew Vikstrom, LAB’80, died in 2013.

Lillian Cohen Kovar, AM’42, PhD’48, died July 17 in Macungie, PA. She was 95. Kovar was a professor emerita of sociology at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York and had also taught at Bard College and the University of Michigan. She was the author of books that included Faces of the Adolescent Girl (1968) and Here to Complete Dr. King’s Dream: The Triumphs and Failures of a Community College (1996). She is survived by two daughters, a son, a sister, and a grandson.

Alice Bro Racher, AM’48, of Flossmoor, IL, died July 20. She was 90. Racher practiced medicine in Chicago for nearly three decades, working at the University of Illinois Hospitals, the Cook County Public Health Department, Project Head Start, and children’s clinics in East Chicago Heights. A longtime Park Forest Public Library trustee, she taught adult education poetry classes at Governors State University. She is survived by a daughter, Anne Racher Boguslavsky, AB’81; two sons; a brother, Andrew H. Bro, DB’57; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Ralph Turner, PhD’48, of Pacific Palisades, CA, died April 5. He was 94. A US Navy veteran, Turner was a distinguished sociologist who spent 42 years on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles. He edited numerous professional journals and published eight books, including Collective Behavior (with Lewis Killian, PhD’49, 1957). He also served as president of the American Sociological Association and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Survivors include a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.

Marvin B. Sullivan, SB’49, SM’53, PhD’67, of St. Pete Beach, FL, died August 26, 2013. He was 89. A WW II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veteran, Sullivan joined the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) in 1942. Receiving the Air Medal in WW II and the Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam, Sullivan helped engineer the first nuclear hardening of the US Air Force B1 aircraft. After retiring from the Air Force, he researched hurricane tracking and measurement. Survivors include his wife, Carol; a daughter; three sons; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.


George Kimball Plochmann, PhD’50, died August 24 in Carbondale, IL. He was 100. A WW II veteran who enlisted in 1941, Plochmann had a long teaching career that included many years as a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University. He helped to found the SIU Press, editing its Philosophical Exploration series and writing or cowriting several books published there. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; a daughter; a granddaughter; a grandson; and a great-granddaughter.

Hubert E. Hermanek Sr., JD’51, of Riverside, IL, died July 2, 2013. He was 84. A Korean War Marine veteran, Hermanek practiced law for 62 years. For three decades, he was active in the Riverside Auxiliary Police Corps, retiring at the rank of captain. Survivors include his wife, Betty Jo; a daughter; a son; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Robert H. Collier, MBA’53, died May 25, 2013, in Barrington, IL. He was 92. Collier worked at International Harvester World Headquarters in Chicago, retiring as director of purchasing and traffic. Survivors include his wife, Rosemary, and a sister.

Raymond C. Gosda, AM’53, died June 19 in Clifton Park, NY. He was 96. A WW II veteran who trained dogs for reconnaissance, Gosda began his career as an educational administrator on the island of Truk in what is now the Federated States of Micronesia. Beginning in 1960, he served as a community development adviser for the Agency for International Development and was posted to Iran, Malawi, and Thailand. He is survived by a son and a granddaughter.

Willis E. Elliott II, PhD’54, died July 5 in Kearney, NE. He was 96. A distinguished theologian, Elliott was an ordained United Church of Christ and American Baptist minister who taught religion at Ottawa University in Kansas, the University of Hawaii, and several theological seminaries. The author of five books, he also wrote for the On Faith project of Newsweek and the Washington Post. Survivors include his wife, Loree; a son; a granddaughter; and a grandson.

George W. Hilton, AM’50, PhD’56, died August 4 in Columbia, MD. He was 89. A longtime professor of economics and transportation regulation at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hilton was a well-known railroad historian who authored 15 books, including The Ma and Pa: A History of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (1963). A lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, he also edited The Annotated Baseball Stories of Ring W. Lardner, 1914–1919 (1995). He is survived by four stepdaughters and two stepsons. His second wife, Constance (Slater) Hilton, PhB’45, died in 2005.

Leonard Fein, AB’54, AM’58, died August 14 in New York City. He was 80. With Elie Wiesel he founded the magazine Moment, serving as its editor from 1975 to 1987. Fein was a columnist for the Jewish Daily Forward and a contributor to the New York Times, the New Republic, and other publications. His books include Where Are We? The Inner Life of America’s Jews (1988). He was the founder of the charity Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. He is survived by two daughters, a brother, and five grandchildren.

Robert E. Nagle, JD’54, of McLean, VA, died August 16. He was 84. During a career in government service, Nagle was devoted to protecting the rights and safety of US workers; he helped to draft legislation that included the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. He also served as executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for many years and was an arbitrator and mediator for employee benefits and labor disputes. He is survived by a daughter, two sons, two brothers, two granddaughters, and one grandson.

Leonard Hersher, PhD’55, died July 11 in Syracuse, NY. He was 89. A WW II veteran, Hersher served in the US Army as a communications officer in France and was awarded a Purple Heart. He spent 37 years on the faculty of the pediatrics department at the State University of New York’s Upstate Medical University. Survivors include his wife, Hilda; a daughter; two sons; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Stanley Reiter, AM’50, PhD’55, died August 9 in Evanston, IL. He was 89. An expert in the field of mechanism design, Reiter was professor emeritus of managerial economics and decision sciences, economics, and mathematics at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he founded the Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science. Reiter’s four books include Designing Economic Mechanisms (2006). He is survived by his wife, Nina; a daughter; and a son.

John E. Sundeen, AB’59, died October 31, 2013, in Milwaukee. He was 77. Starting his career as a securities statistician for the University of Chicago, Sundeen then worked for the National Association of Securities Dealers as an examiner and supervisor, as compliance director for several broker-dealers, and as senior vice president of Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee. He helped develop the Value Line Composite Index, making the Kansas City Board of Trade the first market for trading stock index futures. Retiring in 2002, Sundeen became an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers (now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; two sons; and three grandchildren.

Richard Wolfert, AM’59, a librarian, died November 25, 2013, in Fargo, ND. He was 84. After working at libraries in Chicago and Wisconsin, he became director of the North Dakota State Library. In retirement, Wolfert was a massage therapist in Bismarck, ND, and Fargo. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Wirtzfeld; two daughters; and five grandchildren.

Peter G. Tribby, AB’59, MBA’60, of Chicago, died July 27. He was 77. Tribby worked as a corporate accountant and controller for several companies, including Arthur Andersen, Argus, TRW Automotive, and Bradner Central Company. He is survived by two brothers and a sister. His wife, Ilse I. Tribby, SM’63, PhD’69, died in 2011.


Constantine “Con” C. Patsavas, AM’60, of Glen Ellyn, IL, died June 28, 2013. He was 85. A Navy veteran, Patsavas taught at Northern Illinois University and Glenbard West High School before joining the College of DuPage, where he was a professor of political science and economics for 30 years. Patsavas also spent three decades with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Merit Commission, retiring in 2012. Survivors include his wife, Bertha; a daughter; and a sister.

Charles Payne, EX’60, died August 1 in Chicago. He was 89. A WW II veteran, Payne was a leader in early automation systems for libraries and was UChicago’s first systems librarian. He helped to lead the creation and implementation of the University’s Library Data Management System, one of the first such systems in the country, and retired in 1995 as the library’s assistant director for systems. Payne was the great-uncle of President Barack Obama. He is survived by his wife, Melanie S. Payne, AM’63; his son, Richard C. Payne, LAB’87; and a brother.

Kenneth Keefe Chalmers Jr., MBA’62, died July 19, 2013, in Evanston, IL. He was 83. A Navy veteran, Chalmers worked at the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company (now Bank of America), rising to executive vice president and head of the special industries department. He retired in 1994. In addition to serving as treasurer for Illinois governor James Thompson’s Cost Control Task Force, Chalmers was the president of the Winnetka (IL) Police Pension Fund and a commissioner of the Winnetka Park District. He is survived by his wife, Georganne; a daughter; a son; and five grandchildren.

Robert D. Snider, AM’63, died July 5 in Ashland, OR. He was 77. Snider studied political science at the graduate level at the University of Washington and the University of Toronto, and taught college courses in political science, grant administration, and legal research at institutions in Seattle, Alaska, and Chicago. Survivors include his wife, Hideko T. Snider, AM’60; three stepdaughters; a stepson; a brother; and a sister.

Brent Gabler, MBA’67, of Bradenton, FL, died June 27, 2012. He was 74. An engineer, Gabler was corporate vice president of manufacturing and engineering and corporate vice president of international procurement at Tropicana Products. After retiring, he cofounded a consulting company, Creative Citrus Services. Survivors include his wife, Lorraine; five daughters; a son; a sister; and ten grandchildren.

George P. Turner, MFA’67, of St. Charles, IL, died July 18. He was 70. A US Army veteran, Turner was a painter who worked in multiple media and styles; two of his paintings are held in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and many of his works appeared in exhibitions and galleries in the United States, Germany, and the Virgin Islands. He is survived by his wife, Judy; a daughter; and a son.

Rick L. Prieto, MBA’69, of Evanston, IL, died October 28, 2013. He was 70. After working as an engineer and marketing manager in Chicago, Prieto became a general manager of manufacturing in Shanghai, China. He later taught at DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. Survivors include his wife, Carol; a daughter; a son; a sister; and four grandchildren.

Ellamae Branstetter, PhD’69, of Scottsdale, AZ, died April 29, 2013. She was 90. One of the first three faculty members at the Arizona State University College of Nursing, Branstetter was the inaugural director of its graduate program. Among her honors are the 1974 Outstanding Educator in America award and the 1985 university-wide Faculty Achievement Award at Arizona State. Survivors include her longtime friend Mary Green.


Agnes Burton Augustine, AM’70, died May 4, 2013, in Olympia Fields, IL. She was 92. An elementary school teacher for more than 40 years, Augustine participated in sled dog competitions, training and racing Siberian huskies with her husband, Thomas. They grew organic fruits and vegetables on their Beecher, IL, farm, and supported environmental causes. Augustine also volunteered for a local homeless shelter. She is survived by her husband, a son, a stepdaughter, a stepson, four sisters, a granddaughter, and three step-grandchildren.

John Donald Gedart, MBA’70, died July 11 in Hayward, WI. He was 84. A veteran of the US Air Force, Gedart was an accountant and executive at companies in Illinois and Ohio. He later owned an accounting business and continued to work as a seasonal tax accountant after retiring to Florida in 1992. Gedart belonged to several professional and service organizations. He is survived by his wife, Audrey; five sons; two granddaughters; and four grandsons.

Sally Hunter-Wiley, MBA’72, of Evanston, IL, died August 13 of esophageal cancer. She was 66. The first female media director at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, Hunter-Wiley spent her career at the agency. She retired in the late 1990s and opened a farm in Wisconsin where she bred and boarded dressage horses. She is survived by two daughters, her mother, three brothers, and a sister.

Tom Kessinger, AM’68, PhD’72, died July 4 in Annapolis, MD. He was 73. Kessinger taught South Asian history at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Ford Foundation in 1976. In 1988, he became president of Haverford College, leaving after eight years to become the general manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and, later, the Aga Khan Foundation, both in Geneva. He is survived by his wife, Varyam; two sons; a sister; and five grandchildren.

Norman Lehrer, AB’72, of Wheaton, IL, died July 8. He was 68. A US Army veteran who served as a criminal investigation detective in Germany, Lehrer later practiced law in Illinois for 36 years. He specialized in representing consumers who had been defrauded by auto manufacturers and dealers. He was also a firearms expert and taught gun-safety courses. Survivors include his wife, Nancy; a daughter; a stepdaughter; and a sister.

Eric M. Stiffler, AM’72, PhD’77, died August 24 in Macomb, IL. He was 67. Stiffler joined Western Illinois University as a professor of philosophy and religious studies in 1977. He also served as the university’s acting provost and academic vice president, director of the honors program, assistant provost and academic vice president for curriculum, and associate provost and academic vice president. He is survived by his wife, Janice Owens; a daughter; three sons; his parents; two brothers; two granddaughters; and a grandson.

Ishik (Kubali) Camoglu, AB’78, AM’79, of New York City, died of breast cancer May 10. She was 58. Camoglu worked in finance and exporting for many years, holding positions with large banks, founding a portfolio management and venture capital firm, and owning an agricultural export business. She was also a contributing writer to the Turkish Times on the topics of Turkish relations with the United States and the European Union. She is survived by a daughter and a son.

Virginia (Schlesinger) Garbers, AM’79, of South Nyack, NY, died July 7. She was 78. During her career in marketing and communications, Garbers helped to launch the firm Wood Logan Associates and later worked with nonprofit organizations that included the Boys and Girls Clubs and Friends of Fenway Studios in Boston. She was a member of the board of trustees of the Edward Hopper House in Nyack. She is survived by two daughters, including Alexandra Pruner, LAB’80; a son, Gordon Gray, LAB’74; three stepdaughters, including Deborah Azrael, LAB’80, and Ruth Azrael, LAB’83; a sister; and 11 grandchildren.


Joseph P. Aguanno, MBA’80, died July 27 in Chicago after a brief illness. He was 61. Aguanno spent his entire career at the Gen Re insurance company, from which he retired in 2008. He enjoyed traveling and was an active volunteer in his church. He is survived by six cousins.

Charles Blachut, MBA’83, of Elk Grove Village, IL, died August 30. He was 81. A US Army veteran who worked for People’s Gas Light & Coke Co. for 50 years, Blachut was a dedicated volunteer who was particularly active in his children’s activities: he was a scoutmaster, a member of the Lone Tree Area Girl Scout Council, and a volunteer for the Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation. He is survived by a daughter, a son, a brother, and a granddaughter.

Nicholas Newlin Perry Jr., AB’84, MBA’86, of New York City, died June 17 of metastatic melanoma. He was 52. During his time at the University, he served as student ombudsman and was a well-known jazz deejay on WHPK. He was an options trader for more than 25 years, beginning at the Chicago Board Options Exchange and later working for several Wall Street banks. Survivors include his wife, Funda Turgut; three daughters; a son; a brother; and a sister.

Joani Gudeman, AM’87, died in Chicago July 25 of breast cancer. She was 50. A former hospital social worker who later worked as a psychotherapist, Gudeman became an active volunteer with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network after being diagnosed with the disease in 2004. She served on the organization’s board, helped plan its annual conferences, and edited resources including a guide for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. She is survived by her husband, David McCarthy, JD’87; two sons, including Jacob McCarthy, ’18; her parents; and two sisters.


Kathleen Regan, PhD’95, died July 23 in Portland, OR, of an enlarged heart. She was 55. A professor at the University of Portland for 19 years, Regan was a prolific author of scholarly articles and wrote, directed, and produced four films. Among her professional awards was the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s National Professor of the Year Award for Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges in 2000. She is survived by her partner, Mary Simon; two brothers; and five sisters.

Timothy Kuhfuss, MBA’97, died July 11 in Laramie, WY, of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 53. Kuhfuss began his career at the National Institutes of Health and later became chief information officer of information technology at Argonne National Laboratory. At the time of his death, he was director of research support for information technology at the University of Wyoming. Survivors include his wife, Colette; a daughter; a son; his parents; and two sisters.