From left, professors John Fennessy, John Light, and Antonin Scalia. (University of Chicago News Office)

University obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

John Fennessy, professor emeritus of radiology, died January 3 in Hinsdale, IL. He was 82. A native of Ireland, Fennessy did his residency at UChicago and joined the faculty of its radiology department in 1965. An expert on chest and abdomen radiology, he was named chair of the department in 1974 and oversaw the development of the radiology facility at Mitchell Hospital. He was a founding member of the Society of Thoracic Radiology and the first vice president of the Radiological Society of North America. A popular teacher, Fennessy won the McClintock Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1969 and was voted the graduating medical students’ favorite instructor almost 30 times. He retired in 2005. He is survived by his wife, Ann Mary Ursula; two daughters, including Deirdre Fennessy, LAB’80; four sons; a sister; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Samuel D. Golden, AB’45, JD’49, former associate general counsel for the University, died March 8. He was 89. Golden was an attorney at Argonne National Laboratory from 1954 until 1962, when he joined the University’s Office of Legal Counsel. He was a leader in helping what is now known as the University of Chicago Medicine become a separate legal entity, and was deeply involved with UChicago’s contracts with the Department of Energy and other government agencies. Golden officially retired in 2003 but continued to work part time in the legal office until 2008. An avid musician, he ran a chamber music group in Hyde Park and was also active with the local KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation. He is survived by his wife, Paula; a daughter; two sons, Jonathan Golden, LAB’71, and Daniel Charles Golden, AB’72; five grandsons, including Joshua L. Golden, AB’04, and Benjamin David Golden, AB’04; and one great-granddaughter.

Franca Kuchnir, associate professor emerita of medical physics, died April 29, 2015, in Milford, MA. She was 79. Kuchnir worked at Argonne National Laboratory and taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining UChicago in 1971. A neutron dosimetry and clinical radiation researcher who taught technical medical staff as well as students, she developed a neutron therapy facility at the University that operated for more than 10 years. In 1999 she launched the University’s residency program in medical physics. Kuchnir retired in 2001. She is survived by her husband, Moyses; a daughter; a son; a sister; five granddaughters, including Abigail Kuchnir, Class of 2019; and a grandson.

John Light, professor emeritus of chemistry, died January 18 in Denver. He was 81. A physical chemist, Light joined UChicago’s Department of Chemistry and the James Franck Institute in 1961, later chairing the department and directing the Materials Research Laboratory. The longtime editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics, he was one of the first scientists to describe chemical reaction dynamics on a molecular scale, and he developed influential theoretical and computational models for determining reaction rates and related measures. Light retired in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Kittel; three sons, including David Caldwell Light, LAB’79, MBA’88, and Robert W. Light, LAB’80; a brother; and 10 grandchildren, including Lab students Isabella, Ethan, and Bryce Light.

Gary Palm, JD’67, former clinical professor of law and director of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, died February 14 in Chicago. He was 73. A volunteer in the Mandel Clinic during law school, Palm returned to UChicago in 1970 as an assistant professor and director of the clinic. Under his leadership the clinic focused on community-based advocacy and clinical education, becoming one of the first programs to have students litigate real court cases under a professor’s supervision. Palm was the first clinical teacher on the American Bar Association’s Accreditation Committee and served for six years on the ABA’s legal education group. He became a full professor at the Law School in 1983 and directed the Mandel Clinic until 1991, when he was appointed a clinical professor of law. He retired in 2000. He is survived by a sister.

Antonin Scalia, former University of Chicago Law School professor, died February 13 in Shafter, TX. He was 79. Scalia taught at the University of Virginia and served in the Nixon and Ford administrations before joining the Law School faculty in 1977. A staunch advocate of interpreting the Constitution as the founding fathers would have, Scalia helped organize and advised the Law School’s first chapter of the Federalist Society. In 1982 he was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and in 1986 he was appointed to the US Supreme Court. During his three decades as an associate justice his commitment to originalism, sharp wit, and expressive opinion writing made him a major figure in modern conservatism. He is survived by his wife, Maureen; four daughters, including Ann Banaszewski, LAB’79; five sons, including Eugene Scalia, LAB’81, JD’90; and many grandchildren.


Kathryn Gould, MBA’78, of Portola Valley, CA, died November 26 of cancer. She was 65. A venture capitalist, in 1995 Gould cofounded Silicon Valley firm Foundation Capital, an early investor in Netflix and Lending Clubs that now manages more than $2.7 billion in assets. She joined the University Board of Trustees in 2002 and was the chair of its Investment Committee from 2006 to 2010. In 2005 she received the Chicago Booth Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni Award. A pilot and amateur violinist, Gould became a full-time winemaker in 2009 when she and her husband, Allen Stewart, bought a California vineyard. She is survived by Stewart and her son.


Leonard Liebermann, SB’37, SM’38, PhD’40, died January 8 in La Jolla, CA. He was 100. A longtime professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, Liebermann was known for his research on sound propagation in solids and liquids and for organizing on-campus forums for the Department of Defense to consult with physicists. He took early retirement and developed and commercialized a series of instruments including a gas leak detector for refrigerators. Liebermann is survived by two daughters, including UChicago professor of physics Kathryn Levin; a son; five grandchildren, including Tamara E. Lotan, LAB’94, MD’03, and assistant professor of physics Michael A. Levin, LAB’97; and six great-grandchildren.


Janet L. Kohrman, AB’40, AM’49, of Chicago died March 14. She was 97. A social worker, Kohrman was a lecturer and administrator at UChicago’s School of Social Service Administration, worked at Michael Reese Hospital, and served as a counselor at the Juvenile Protective Association in Chicago. She was a founder of the Institute for Clinical Social Work and enjoyed attending performances at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Her first husband, Charles Pfeiffer, SB’40, died in 1944. She is survived by a daughter, Cathryn Ann Collins, LAB’76; two sons, including Daniel B. Kohrman, LAB’74; and six grandchildren.

Mary T. Mitchell, SB’42, SM’44, of Springfield, VA, died February 26. She was 94. Mitchell was an analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago before joining the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1964. In 1975 she became the first woman to hold the position of associate director of planning and program development in the bank supervision division. Mitchell retired in 1984. She is survived by a daughter, Miriam Dewhurst, LAB’65; a son; three stepdaughters; four grandsons; a great-granddaughter; and a great-grandson.

Bernice Colner Spielberg, SB’42, died February 28 in Los Angeles. She was 95. Spielberg moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1960. After the death of her first husband, William Colner, SB’41, in 1968, she earned a master’s degree and taught creative writing at Valley State University, Northridge. She is survived by her husband, Arnold Spielberg; three sons; three stepdaughters; one stepson; seven grandchildren; and many step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Robert Frederick “Bob” Dale, SB’43, of West Lafayette, IN, died February 1. He was 94. A weather officer during World War II, Dale spent 20 years with the US Weather Bureau, working as a climatologist in several cities. In 1967 he became an associate professor at Purdue University, where he taught agricultural meteorology and statistical climatology until 1987. He is survived by three daughters, two sons, 17 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Muriel Friedman Tuteur, AB’43, of Laguna Woods, CA, died February 3. She was 93. Tuteur served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and later was a caseworker and a preschool teacher. In 1969 she started the country’s first union-sponsored day care center; she directed the Amalgamated Day Care and Health Center until 1983. Tuteur received the Coalition for Labor Union Women’s Florence Criley Award in 1982 and the National Council of Jewish Women’s Hannah G. Solomon Award in 1988. She is survived by a daughter, a son, and a granddaughter.

Laurence Finberg, SB’44, MD’46, of San Francisco died January 22. He was 92. An expert on fluid and electrolyte abnormalities in children, he taught in and chaired the pediatrics departments of several academic medical centers including at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, where he also served as dean of the medical school. Finberg won the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1969, and continued to teach pediatric medicine in retirement. His first wife, Harriet Levinson Finberg, AB’45, AM’47, died in 1994. He is survived by his wife, Joann Quane-Finberg; a daughter; two sons, Robert Finberg, AB’71, and James Finberg, JD’83; and many grandchildren, including Sara Julie Fine, AB’04.

Clarence “Clar” W. Cukor, PhB’46, SB’48, of Atlanta, died March 12. He was 90. A World War II veteran, Cukor worked in the packaging and vending industries, spending the last two decades of his career as the marketing and export manager of the Georgia Duck and Cordage Mill. He volunteered with several professional organizations and wrote hundreds of technical articles on manufacturing. He is survived by his wife, Janet, and two daughters.

Harry A. Oberhelman Jr., SB’46, MD’46, died February 10 in Stanford, CA. He was 92. A veteran of the US Air Force Medical Corps, in 1960 Oberhelman joined the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he trained more than 160 general surgery residents and maintained a surgical practice. He retired in 2001 but continued to consult and teach, becoming the medical director of Stanford Health Care’s International Medical Services in 2006. He is survived by his wife, Betty; a daughter; three sons; a sister; a brother, John H. Oberhelman, MD’57; and nine grandchildren.

Charles Pressman, AB’46, JD’51, died October 2 in Lake Forest, IL. He was 92. Cofounder of the Chicago-based firm Pressman & Hartunian, Pressman was a defense, employment discrimination, and civil rights attorney and a longtime director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Chicago chapter. He left the firm in 1982 but continued to work on cases for the next three decades. His first wife, Lenore G. Pressman, AB’48, AM’53, died in 1986. He is survived by his wife, Joan; a daughter; a son; a sister; a granddaughter; two stepdaughters; a stepson; and three step-grandchildren.

William F. Schroeder, AB’46, died October 20 in Boise, ID. He was 87. A College graduate at age 17, Schroeder spent much of his legal career as a litigator and advocate for the responsible use of public lands and resources, particularly those in the western United States. In 2000 he received the Oregon State Bar’s Award of Merit, the organization’s highest honor. Schroeder is survived by his wife, Alberta; three daughters; three sons; 14 grandchildren, including Anna C. Gustafson, AB’14; and eight great-grandchildren.

Richard Kekuni Blaisdell, MD’47, died February 12 in Honolulu. He was 90. Blaisdell was an assistant professor of medicine at UChicago before joining the faculty at the University of Hawaii, where he taught until 2006. An advocate for accessible and culturally appropriate health care for native Hawaiians, he focused on the unique medical needs of the indigenous population in much of his research. He was influential in the passage of the federal Native Hawaiian Health Care Act of 1988, which established Hawaiian health centers that integrated Western and native medical practices. He is survived by a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren.

Martha Basu, LAB’45, PhB’48, died January 11 in Los Angeles. She was 85. Basu and her husband spent several years in India and later lived in California and Pennsylvania. An active community volunteer, she enjoyed playing cards, crafting, reading, cooking, traveling, and keeping in touch with friends and family. She is survived by two sons, a sister, three granddaughters, and two grandsons.

Edith R. Skom, AB’48, died February 3 in Winnetka, IL. She was 86. Skom taught writing at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences for more than 30 years, retiring with emeritus status in 2012. A novelist herself, Skom was best known for her literature-themed mysteries. She is survived by her husband, Joseph H. Skom, PhB’47, SB’51, MD’52; a daughter, Harriet Meyer, MD’79; and three grandchildren.

Kale A. Williams Jr., AB’48, died January 7 in Boulder, CO. He was 90. A World War II veteran, Williams was an advocate for integrating public housing more thoroughly into Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs. He worked for the American Friends Service Committee before spending two decades as the head of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. After retiring in 1992 he spent 10 years as the senior scholar in residence at Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning. He is survived by his wife, Helen L. Williams, PhB’50; a daughter; two sons; three sisters; two brothers; and five grandchildren.


Warren Nyer, SB’50, died February 4 in Idaho Falls, ID. He was 94. Nyer worked on the Manhattan Project as an undergraduate research assistant and was involved in the creation of the world’s first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. In 1951 he joined the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho and later consulted for nuclear power utilities. He was a charter member of the American Nuclear Society and vice chair of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Safety and Licensing Panel. He is survived by two sons, three stepdaughters, and several step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.

Charlotte Lettermon, AM’51, died February 14 in Holland, MI. She was 90. Lettermon was a children’s social worker with the State of Wisconsin, retiring in 2001. She was a member of East Congregational Church and enjoyed decorating, crafting, reading, and solving crossword puzzles. Her husband, Harrison Dean Lettermon, AM’51, died in 2013. She is survived by her sister.

Arnold Katz, LAB’48, AB’52, died January 25 in Norwich, VT. He was 83. Katz became a professor of cardiology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1969 and was appointed the first chief of cardiology at the University of Connecticut’s medical school in 1977. An award-winning researcher, he published more than 400 articles and several textbooks. After retiring in 1998 he continued to teach as a visiting professor at Harvard and Dartmouth. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; three daughters; one son; and eight grandchildren.

John Rayne, SM’52, PhD’54, died August 9 in St. Louis. He was 88. A native of Australia, Rayne attended UChicago on a Fulbright Scholarship and briefly worked for a national science agency in Australia and a research laboratory in Pittsburgh before joining the physics faculty at what is now Carnegie Mellon University in 1964. His research focused on thermal and electrical connectivity in metals and metal alloys at very low temperatures. Rayne retired from CMU with emeritus status in 1995. He is survived by his wife, Ann; two daughters; a son; and two grandsons.

Alex Poinsett, EX’54, died October 23 in Chicago. He was 89. A Navy veteran, Poinsett was a staff writer at Jet magazine before becoming senior editor of Ebony magazine. He was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the author of five books. He is survived by a daughter, P. Mimi Poinsett, LAB’74, MD’83; a son, A. Pierre Poinsett Sr., LAB’78; a sister; two grandsons; a great-granddaughter; and a great-grandson.

Bernard George Springer, AB’54, SM’57, PhD’64, of Encino, CA, died January 29, 2015. He was 79. Springer was a professor of physics at the University of Southern California and later worked at the RAND Corporation. He specialized in US/Soviet military assessment and devoted many of his later years to global arms control proposals. He is survived by a son and a daughter.

John Gagnon, AB’55, PhD’69, died February 11 in Palm Springs, CA. He was 84. A sociologist with a focus on sex research, Gagnon worked at what is now the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University before joining the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He theorized sexuality was more social construct than biological identity, and in the 1980s he worked with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago on an influential large-scale survey of American sexuality, focusing on both sexual practices and attitudes. Gagnon is survived by his wife, Cathy Greenblat; two daughters; two sons; and five grandchildren.

Rita Weinberg, AM’47, PhD’55, died January 28 in Valencia, CA. She was 91. A psychologist focused on children and family issues, Weinberg worked for the Institute for Juvenile Research and consulted for the Infant Welfare Society in Chicago. She taught at National Louis University from 1976 to 2011 while maintaining a private practice. Her husband, Samuel Kirson Weinberg, AB’34, AM’35, PhD’42, died in 2001. She is survived by a daughter, Carol R. Weinberg, AB’73; two sons; two sisters; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Richard S. Frank, AM’56, died March 1 in Palm Desert, CA. He was 84. Frank was a legislative reporter and political correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin before joining the National Journal, a political trade magazine, in 1971. He became editor in 1976 and was known for his focus on deeply researched, nonpartisan news and analysis. Frank retired in 1997 and from 2000 to 2009 was an editor at Boston University’s Washington Journalism Center. He is survived by two sons, a sister, and two grandsons.

Norman F. Gustaveson, DB’56, AM’59, died February 12 in Chapel Hill, NC. He was 85. Gustaveson was secretary of the Campus Y at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1964 to 1976 and was later nominated to UNC’s Order of the Golden Fleece for his service to the university. From 1974 to 1982 Gustaveson was a commissioner for Orange County, NC. Throughout his life he advocated for social justice, environmental, and conservation causes. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a daughter; two sons; and seven grandchildren.

Margaret Miner “Peg” Morton, AM’56, died December 19 in Eugene, OR. She was 85. Morton was a rural outreach counselor for a southern Illinois health center and a dedicated Quaker activist. Involved in many antiwar and civil rights protest movements, she focused in her later years on promoting peace in, and solidarity with, Latin America. She is survived by three daughters, three granddaughters, and two grandsons.


Patricia P. Rosenzweig, AB’61, died December 19 in Chicago. She was 76. A leader in architectural services marketing, Rosenzweig started her own marketing group in 1976 and mentored many architects throughout her career. In 2006 she became a full-time volunteer counselor at the University’s career advising and planning services. She is survived by three sisters.

Gerald A. Cohn, JD’62, of Orinda, CA, died November 26. He was 78. Cohn was a trial lawyer in San Francisco and taught civil trial law at Stanford University Law School. For 17 years he was a special master in the US District Court of San Francisco. He is survived by his wife, Karin; a daughter; and two stepsons.

Charles R. Perry, MBA’62, PhD’68, died March 15 in Chelsea, MI. He was 77. Perry was a longtime professor of management and industrial relations at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. An expert on labor issues, he published widely and served in the US Office of Management and Budget from 1971 to 1972. He is survived by his wife, Karen; two daughters; a stepdaughter; a stepson; a granddaughter; and four step-grandchildren.

Raymond P. Westerdahl, SM’59, PhD’62, died November 9 in Denville, NJ. He was 86. A Korean War veteran, Westerdahl was a physical chemist at the US Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, NJ, where he specialized in high-temperature reactions. He later worked on pollution abatement at Army ammunition plants. An avid singer, he was a tenor soloist at several churches and with local choruses. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn (Lovejoy) Westerdahl, AB’55, SB’57.

William H. Schaap, JD’64, died February 25 in New York City. He was 75. A lawyer and activist, Schaap provided legal counsel to Vietnam War protesters in the United States and abroad and, with his wife, cofounded CovertAction, which sought to expose illegal Central Intelligence Agency activities. Schaap was an attorney for several CIA whistle-blowers and in 1980 the couple started the radical Sheridan Square Press. After Hurricane Katrina, Schaap represented displaced homeowners in New Orleans. He is survived by a sister.

Bonnie Greer, AB’65, died April 18, 2015. She was 71. Greer worked for Revlon, Christian Dior, and the US Postal Service, and lived in several cities across the country. She enjoyed outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, kayaking, horseback riding, and caving. She is survived by many friends.


Philip Joel Greenberg, PhD’70, died December 26 in Chicago. He was 73. A student of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Greenberg taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Monmouth College, and Roosevelt University. He also worked at the Atmospheric and Environmental Research Institute and for Bell Laboratories/AT&T. Later he tutored students in science while continuing to conduct independent research. He is survived by friends and family.

Anne Roby, AB’70, died December 13 in Chicago. She was 75. Roby taught adult learners at Roosevelt University, the Reading Institute, and a drug abuse clinic. Later she was an editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica and worked in grade school math and science curriculum development. Roby was active in many local organizations, including reading and exercise groups. She is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.

Steven Lawrence Detweiler, PhD’75, died February 8 in Gainesville, FL. He was 68. Detweiler was an associate professor at Yale University before joining the astrophysics faculty at the University of Florida in 1982. An expert on gravitation and black holes, he published more than 100 scholarly articles. He enjoyed running with the Florida Track Club and completed the 2015 Boston Marathon. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; a daughter; a son; two sisters; and two grandsons.


Charles T. Carlstrom, AB’82, AM’82, of Bay Village, OH, died January 15 of septic shock. He was 55. Carlstrom taught economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before becoming a senior economic adviser in the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s research department. For two decades he was a dedicated patron of the Cleveland International Film Festival. He is survived by his mother, a sister, and a brother.


Matthew William Geiger, MDiv’04, died March 9 of cancer in Alexandria, VA. He was 43. Geiger was an adjunct instructor at several colleges before teaching high school religion and ethics in Massachusetts and then Virginia. He continued his studies while teaching and received a doctor of ministry degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2013. He is survived by his wife, Emily; his parents; and a sister.