Professor emeritus Robert Gomer

Professor emeritus Robert Gomer was a pioneer in the modern discipline of surface physics and chemistry. (Special Collections Research Center)

University obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, trustee, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and staff

James Charles Bruce, PhD’63, associate professor emeritus of Germanic studies, died January 26 in Chicago. He was 87. Bruce taught at South Carolina State College and studied at the University of Frankfurt am Main on a Fulbright scholarship before joining the UChicago faculty in 1963. He retired from the University in 1992 and then spent 11 years teaching English conversation at Soka University in Japan. Bruce was active in the Midwest Modern Language Association and published many articles on German literature as well as a book for Japanese students learning English. He is survived by a son and four grandsons.

Richard Chambers, associate professor emeritus of Turkish languages and civilizations, died August 1. He was 86. A key figure in the development of Turkish and Ottoman studies at UChicago, Chambers joined the faculty in 1962 and helped found the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in 1965. He served as the center’s director from 1979 to 1985 and helped recruit prominent Turkish scholars to the University. He was also involved with several national associations for Turkish and Middle Eastern studies and, with funding from the US Department of Education, established the Advanced Summer Modern Turkish Program for American students in 1982. He retired from UChicago in 1998.

Robert Gomer, professor emeritus of chemistry, died December 12. He was 92. A chemical physicist, Gomer joined the University in 1950. He directed the James Franck Institute from 1977 to 1983 and received a distinguished service professorship in 1984. Gomer’s research focused on surface physics and chemistry, and he pioneered new techniques for studying the emission, diffusion, and absorption of molecules and atoms on ultraclean surfaces. He received many awards for his work, including Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships. A staunch opponent of nuclear weapon proliferation, Gomer cowrote a classified report warning against nuclear weapon use during the Vietnam War and chaired the editorial board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. After he retired from the University in 1996 he began hosting interdisciplinary lectures in his home, events that became the Robert and Anne Gomer Lecture Series. Gomer is survived by his wife, Anne; a daughter, Maria Luczkow, LAB’77; a son, Richard Gomer, LAB’73; and three granddaughters.


David Rockefeller, PhD’40, died March 20 in Pocantico Hills, NY. He was 101. The grandson of University cofounder John D. Rockefeller, he served in the US Army before joining Chase bank, becoming chair and CEO of Chase Manhattan in 1969. Rockefeller traveled frequently to expand Chase’s international presence, and in the 1970s helped bring local businesses and government together to alleviate New York City’s financial troubles. Rockefeller retired in 1981 and continued his family’s commitment to philanthropy, spurring the development of low-income housing and supporting museums, public schools, and universities, including UChicago. In 1998 his contributions to society were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rockefeller is survived by four daughters; one son; 10 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.


Philip Joseph Stein, SB’34, SM’35, MD’37, died February 15 in Evanston, IL. He was 102. Stein served in the US Army’s Medical Corps during World War II before spending his career practicing obstetrics and gynecology. He worked at several Chicago-area hospitals in addition to maintaining a private practice. His wife, Elaine Krensky Stein, AM’50, died in December (see page 85). Stein is survived by a daughter, a son, and two granddaughters.

Charity Ruth (Hillis) Seay, AM’37, of Lexington, KY, died February 18. She was 102. Seay worked for the University of Kentucky’s Bureau of School Services before serving as a professor of education at three Michigan universities. In retirement she enjoyed gardening and breeding swans, ponies, and miniature donkeys. Her husband, Maurice F. Seay, PhD’43, died in 1988. Seay is survived by nieces and nephews.


Natalie Finder, AB’41, AM’46, of Pittsburgh, PA, died January 12. She was 95. Finder taught English at the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY. She enjoyed reading, cooking, and traveling. Her husband, Morris Finder, AM’49, PhD’60, died in 2013. She is survived by two daughters, three sons, and five grandchildren.

Gloria (Harnick) Parloff, SB’43, of Teaneck, NJ, died January 20. She was 94. After serving as a cartographer during World War II, Parloff edited the journal Psychiatry from 1959 to 1991, serving as managing editor for the last 25 years of her tenure. Her husband, Morris B. Parloff, AM’42, died in 2011. She is survived by two sons, a brother, and a grandson.

Veva (Hopkins) Schreiber, PhB’44, of Lake Forest, IL, died February 22. She was 91. A nationally accredited flower show judge, Schreiber was active in local and national garden clubs and edited Illinois’s Garden Glories magazine. Her husband, G. Richard Schreiber, EX’44, died in 2007. She is survived by a daughter, a son, a brother, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Huston Smith, PhD’45, died December 30 in Berkeley, CA. He was 97. A comparative religion scholar known for practicing faiths as he studied them, Smith taught at several universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley. He was the author of The Religions of Man (1958), later renamed The World’s Religions, which has sold more than three million copies. Smith is survived by his wife, Eleanor Kendra Smith, PhB’43; two daughters; a brother; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Janet McAuley Rotariu, PhB’46, died January 21 in Salisbury, MD. She was 92. While raising her family, Rotariu volunteered with her children’s scout troops and parent-teacher associations, as well as at Children’s National Medical Center. Later she was a financial administrator at two churches. Her husband, George J. Rotariu, SB’39, SM’40, died in 2010. Rotariu is survived by a daughter, two sons, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

George Wilson Hood, MBA’47, PhD’50, died February 20 in DeLand, FL. He was 95. A US Navy veteran, Hood joined Stetson University in 1950 as director of guidance, later serving as dean of men, dean of students, and professor of counselor education. After retiring from Stetson in 1987, he founded and directed a counseling center at his church and remained an active member of the USS Drexler Survivors’ Association. Hood is survived by nieces and nephews.

Victor Lownes III, AB’47, died January 11 in London. He was 88. Lownes joined Playboy as marketing director in 1955 and played a key role in expanding the magazine’s audience. He oversaw the long-running campaign “What Sort of Man Reads Playboy?” and had the idea for the Playboy Club nightclubs. Outside of Playboy, Lownes produced movies, plays, and music. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; a daughter; a son; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Robert S. Rosenzweig, PhB’47, SB’48, SM’49, died February 12 in San Francisco. He was 91. Rosenzweig spent his career as a business systems analyst and a hand bookbinder. He was a longtime member of the Hand Bookbinders of California and the Trollope Society, and enjoyed his weekly Talmud class. Rosenzweig is survived by his wife, Regina; two sons, including David Abraham Rosenzweig, AB’90; and three grandchildren.

Robert Silvers, AB’47, died March 20 in New York City. He was 87. A US Army veteran, Silvers worked at the Paris Review and Harper’s before cofounding the New York Review of Books in 1963. He edited the Review for more than 50 years and was known for his pairings of influential writers with unexpected topics. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he received the National Book Critics Circle’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, among other honors.  He is survived by nieces and nephews.


Wallace M. Rudolph, AB’50, JD’53, died March 18 in Orlando, FL. He was 86. A US Army veteran, Rudolph was in private legal practice before joining the faculty of the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1962. He was appointed dean of Seattle University College of Law in 1976 and then became dean of Barry University’s law school in 1997. Rudolph is survived by his wife, Mimi; three daughters, including Sarah Rudolph Cole, JD’90; a stepdaughter; a stepson; and four grandchildren.

Elaine Krensky Stein, AM’50, died December 15 in Evanston, IL. She was 90. Stein taught nursery school and was involved in various community organizations. She enjoyed nature and gardening and was a supporter of local parks and nature centers. Her husband, Philip Joseph Stein, SB’34, SM’35, MD’37, died in February (see page 84). Stein is survived by a daughter, a son, a brother, and two granddaughters.

Ruth Curd Dickson, AB’52, died January 17 in Topeka, KS. She was 83. Dickson started her career in public policy and mental health, later working in fundraising at several universities, including the University of Chicago. She retired in 1997 and enjoyed baking, textile art, and traveling. Dickson is survived by two daughters, including Sara Dickson, AB’82; a son; and eight grandchildren.

Lois (Josephs) Ely, JD’52, died February 19 in Morton Grove, IL. She was 89. Ely practiced law in Chicago before becoming the first woman assistant county prosecutor in Bergen County, NJ. She later was legal counsel at Winthrop College in Charlotte, NC, and in retirement provided free legal assistance to the elderly. Ely is survived by two daughters and a son.

Donald L. Fink, LAB’48, AB’52, SB’54, MD’56, of San Francisco, died January 16. He was 84. A US Navy veteran, Fink directed the pediatric clinic at Moffitt Hospital before helping to found two family medicine programs at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1971. He held leadership positions at UCSF at San Francisco General Hospital and helped to create UCSF’s network of satellite community clinics. Fink is survived by his extended family, including sister Lenore F. Rubin, AB’59.

Robert T. Harms, AB’52, AM’56, PhD’60, of Austin, TX, died October 5. He was 84. A phonology expert, Harms was on the linguistics faculty at the University of Texas at Austin from 1958 until 2006, chairing the department from 1972 to 1977. In retirement he studied the flora of Texas. Harms is survived by his wife and children.

George W. Reed Jr., PhD’52, died August 31, 2015, in Chicago. He was 94. While a student, Reed worked on the Manhattan Project and collaborated with Clair Patterson, PhD’51, on dating the solar system. He then joined Argonne National Laboratory, where he was on the Lunar Samples Analysis Planning Team, receiving the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and the NASA Group Achievement Award. He retired from Argonne in 1990. Reed is survived by a daughter; two sons, including Mark D. Morrison-Reed, LAB’67, AM’77; a brother; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Nancy Haas Flick, AB’53, died November 27 in San Diego. She was 83. Flick earned a law degree at the University of San Diego and served on the board of the Sierra Club. She enjoyed the arts, the beach, unspoiled wilderness, and San Diego. She is survived by her husband, Arnold Leab Flick, MD’54; three daughters, including Rachel Flick Wildavsky, AB’80; and eight grandchildren.

Stephen B. Appel, AB’54, MBA’59, died February 5 in Cincinnati, OH. He was 81. Appel served in the US Army before beginning a career in retail, retiring as operating vice president at Federated Department Stores in 1988. He then began teaching at the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Learning in Retirement, on subjects ranging from silent movies to the American Revolution, and served as the institute’s volunteer director for six years. Appel is survived by his wife, Patty; a daughter, Susan D. Appel, AB’90; a son; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Arthur Rosenfeld, PhD’54, died January 27 in Berkeley, CA. He was 90. A US Navy veteran, Rosenfeld was working as a nuclear and particle physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, when the 1973 oil crisis turned his attention to energy conservation. He created the Energy Efficient Buildings Program in 1975 and spent the rest of his career researching and promoting energy efficiency standards. He was an adviser to the US Department of Energy and a recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. He is survived by two daughters and six grandchildren.

Roger C. Cramton, JD’55, died February 3 in Ithaca, NY. He was 87. Cramton taught at the University of Chicago and Michigan Law School before becoming assistant attorney general in the Nixon administration, a short-lived position as Cramton advised the president his actions were unlawful following the Watergate scandal. Cramton then served as dean of Cornell University’s law school, from 1973 to 1980, and was later an emeritus professor of law. He is survived by his wife, Harriet; a daughter; three sons; two sisters; 11 grandchildren; and 21 great-grandchildren.

Raymond M. Smullyan, SB’55, died February 6 in Hudson, NY. He was 97. Smullyan worked as a magician before becoming a mathematics professor, teaching at Yeshiva University; Lehman College, City University of New York; and Indiana University. The author of numerous books of puzzles, he was especially known for his creative logic puzzles. Smullyan is survived by a stepson, six step-grandchildren, and 16 step-great-grandchildren.

Nina Byers, SM’53, PhD’56, died June 5, 2014, in Santa Monica, CA. She was 84. A theoretical physicist, Byers joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1961 and made significant contributions to fields including particle physics and superconductivity. After retiring from UCLA in 1993, she established a website that chronicles and celebrates other women’s contributions to physics. Byers is survived by extended family.

Robert P. Blumer, AB’56, SB’58, MBA’58, of Orland Park, IL, died February 22. He was 82. Blumer was vice president of media administration at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, retiring in 1994. He enjoyed gardening and the Pittsburgh Steelers and volunteered at the Cancer Support Center. Blumer is survived by his wife, Sharon; two daughters; a son; a sister, Elizabeth (Blumer) Witschard, SB’58; and three grandchildren.

Robert J. Blattner, PhD’57, died June 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. He was 83. Blattner was a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. A specialist in theory of representations and geometric quantization, he was best known for Blattner’s conjecture, involving representations of a semisimple real Lie group. Blattner also served on several boards at UCLA and had a passion for music. He is survived by his wife, Susan Montgomery, SM’66, PhD’69; three sons; and six grandchildren.

Mildred Dresselhaus, PhD’59, died February 20 in Cambridge, MA. She was 86. Dresselhaus joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960, later becoming the university’s first tenured woman professor. She was known as the “queen of carbon science,” and her research into the fundamental properties of carbon paved the way for advances in materials science. The recipient of the National Medal of Science and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dresselhaus was a dedicated advocate for more women in science. She is survived by her husband, Gene; a daughter; three sons; and five grandchildren.


Walter David Braddock III, MBA’60, died March 11 in Springfield, IL. He was 80. Braddock was a fuel chemist for Standard Oil and an economist for the State of Illinois before becoming a college professor. He was also an inventor, holding the patent for the first computerized stock exchange. Braddock is survived by his wife, Zoé; three sons, including Walter D. Braddock, AB’84, and Demetrios Thomas Braddock, AB’88, PhD’94, MD’96; a sister; and seven grandchildren.

Avima Ruder, EX’62, of Cincinnati, OH, died January 26. She was 75. An epidemiologist, Ruder spent 28 years at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. She published nearly 150 articles and was noted for her work identifying carcinogens. Ruder is survived by extended family.

Peggy Stevens, LAB’57, AB’80 (Class of 1962), died February 12 in Mishawaka, IN. She was 77. Stevens taught photography at several colleges and community organizations in the Chicago area and led courses on wildflowers and ecological sustainability at DePaul University. She enjoyed genealogy and composing poetry and song lyrics. Stevens is survived by her husband, William J. Stevens, AB’62; two sons; a sister, Dorothy Hess Guyot, LAB’53, AB’57, AB’58; a brother; and a granddaughter.

Joseph Nitecki, AM’63, of Philadelphia, died January 26. He was 94. An academic librarian, Nitecki worked at colleges and universities across the country, most recently as director of libraries at the State University of New York, Albany, where he also taught school information policy. His brother, Matthew H. Nitecki, SM’62, PhD’68, died in December (see below). Nitecki is survived by family, including his son, Zbigniew Nitecki, SB’65.

Deborah Schimmel Butterworth, AM’64, of Washington, DC, died February 18. She was 79. Butterworth taught French at Georgetown Day School and enjoyed traveling and playing music with the local New Horizons Band. She is survived by her husband, Charles E. Butterworth, AM’62, PhD’66; a daughter; a brother; and a granddaughter.

Jerald C. Walker, DB’64, died December 24 in Tulsa, OK. He was 78. An ordained Methodist minister, Walker was chaplain of Nebraska Wesleyan University and president of John J. Pershing College before being appointed president of Oklahoma City University in 1979. Walker, a member of the Cherokee Nation, focused on improving educational access for Native American and minority students. He retired in 1997 and was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 1999.

John Richard “Jack” Shaeffer, SM’58, PhD’64, died December 21 in Carol Stream, IL. He was 85. Shaeffer served as a science adviser for the US Army, helping to write the Clean Water Act of 1972, before launching his own engineering firm in 1976. Known for creative solutions to wastewater management issues, he served as chairman of the DuPage County Environmental Commission and his work was recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Shaeffer is survived by a daughter, three sons, two stepdaughters, two stepsons, two brothers, and 11 grandchildren.

Richard Gottlieb, AB’65, MD’69, died January 31 in New York City. He was 73. Gottlieb was a founding member of the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute and faculty director at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. He was also a clinical associate professor at Mount Sinai’s medical school and lectured widely while maintaining private practices in New York and Sharon, CT. Gottlieb is survived by his wife, Josephine, and two sons.

Kathleen (O’Farrell) Rubin, LAB’54, AB’65, died February 17 in Camarillo, CA. She was 78. Rubin taught in the Chicago Public Schools system for a few years and then in the Westmont, IL, system for more than 30 years. She enjoyed visiting art museums, knitting, sewing, gardening, and playing bridge. Rubin is survived by a daughter; a stepdaughter; a stepson; and a sister, Ellen (Philip) Leavitt, LAB’60.

David M. Schoenwetter, SB’65, of Phoenix, died December 4. He was 72. Schoenwetter spent his career in the aerospace and computer industries and enjoyed writing fiction and humor pieces (including his own witty eulogy). He is survived by his wife, Barbara.

John T. Beatty Jr., MBA’66, died February 7 in Northfield, IL. He was 80. A US Army veteran, Beatty was an investment banker, holding senior positions with Allis Chalmers and Smith Barney. He also served on professional and civic boards, acted as a supernumerary with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Beatty is survived by his wife, Marila; a daughter; two sons; and four grandchildren.

Matthew H. Nitecki, SM’62, PhD’68, died December 21 in Chicago. He was 91. The last curator of the Walker Museum of Paleontology in Chicago, Nitecki oversaw the transfer of its collection to the Field Museum in 1965. He remained with the Field Museum for the rest of his career, retiring as curator of invertebrate fossils, while also teaching biology at UChicago. His brother, Joseph Nitecki, AM’63, died in January. Nitecki is survived by his wife, Doris Nitecki, AM’57; and a son.

Patricia (Riley) Johnson, AM’69, died January 14 in Washington, DC. She was 71. Johnson worked for the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare before becoming the founding president and CEO of Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that repairs the homes of low-income, elderly, and handicapped Americans, in 1988. After retiring in 2006, she became canon missioner at Washington National Cathedral, where she led many social justice initiatives. Johnson is survived by her husband, Tom; four sons; and nine grandchildren.


William “Bill” Howard Cowan, JD’71, died of cancer on February 2 in Naperville, IL. He was 69. Cowan was a lawyer in the Chicago area, specializing in business and merger and acquisition law. He was also an amateur photographer, a member of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a dedicated theatergoer. Cowan is survived by three daughters, a son, and a grandson.

Roy Allen Whiteside Jr., MBA’72, died September 19 in Fredericksburg, VA. He was 78. A certified public accountant, Whiteside practiced in Fredericksburg from 1979 until his retirement in 2010. He enjoyed sailing, traveling, playing backgammon, and spending time with family. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; four children; three stepchildren; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


Tani Marilena Adams, AM’81, of Austin, TX, died February 5 of cancer. She was 62. The founder of the Texas Center for Policy Studies, between 1988 and 1994 Adams established and directed five Greenpeace regional offices in Latin America. In 1996 she was appointed director of the Center for Mesoamerican Research in Guatemala, and she later held fellowships at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Adams is survived by a daughter, a son, her parents, a sister, and a brother.

Cameron Joseph Campbell, AM’84, died December 10 in Chicago. He was 70. Campbell ran the Regenstein Library’s serials indexing department and the Northwestern University School of Law’s special projects department, retiring from the American Theological Library Association as the director of indexing. He enjoyed collecting East Asian art. Campbell is survived by his husband, Daniel von Brighoff, and a sister.

Lesa B. Morrison, AB’84, MBA’85, died the first week of December in Nairobi, Kenya, as the result of a spider bite. She was 53. Morrison spent three and a half years in the Peace Corps and worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC, before earning a PhD in African studies. She later moved to Kenya to study the native Luo people. Morrison enjoyed traveling, classical music, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. She is survived by her mother and her sister.


Timothy Stephen Fuerst, AM’87, PhD’90, of Granger, IN, died February 21 of stomach cancer. He was 54. Fuerst was an economics professor at Bowling Green State University and a senior economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland before joining the economics faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 2012. He was active in his church and enjoyed reading, exercising, and watching Notre Dame football. Fuerst is survived by his wife, Antoinette Medaglia; two daughters; two sons; and seven siblings.


Emily Ariel Bamberger, AB’13, died March 6 in Kansas City, MO. She was 26. Bamberger worked for the American Red Cross in Chicago as a member of AmeriCorps before enrolling in an MD/PhD program at the University of Missouri. She enjoyed reading, traveling, movies, and politics. Bamberger is survived by her parents, her sister, and two grandfathers.