Edward Wasiolek, the Avalon Foundation Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and the College, died on May 3, 2018. (Photography by Lloyd Saunders, UChicago Photographic Archive, apf7-01532-002r, University of Chicago Library)

University obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, and alumni obituaries.

Faculty and Staff

Robert B. Uretz, SB’47, PhD’54, Ralph W. Gerard Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, died September 14 in Chicago. He was 94. A World War II US Army Air Force veteran, Uretz joined the UChicago faculty in 1954 and remained there until his retirement four decades later. He worked on the development of microbeams in the Department of Biophysics, which he chaired from 1966 to 1969. After holding deputy and associate administrative positions, he served from 1977 to 1983 as dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and as vice president of the medical center. He is survived by a daughter, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Violet Fogel Uretz, SB’39, died in 2007.

Janice B. Spofford, PhB’44, SB’46, PhD’55, associate professor emerita of ecology and evolution, of Chicago, died in late March. She was 92. Spofford was the youngest faculty member at UChicago when she began teaching in the Department of Biology at age 23 in 1949. A geneticist and evolutionary biologist, she focused her research on fruit fly genetics and studied the phenomenon of heterosis, or hybrid vigor, among other topics. She was an associate member of both the Committee on Evolutionary Biology and the Committee on Genetics, Genomics, and Systems Biology. Her husband, Richardson L. Spofford, MBA’50, died in early July (see below). She is survived by two sons, John Spofford, LAB’78, and George B. Spofford, LAB’83, and four grandchildren.

Edward Wasiolek, the Avalon Foundation Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and the College, died May 3. He was 92. Wasiolek joined the faculty in 1955 and taught for more than four decades. An expert on Fyodor Dostoevsky, he wrote Dostoevsky: The Major Fiction (1964) and edited five volumes of Dostoevsky’s notebooks for his novels (1967–71). A decade after publishing Tolstoy’s Major Fiction (1978), he delivered an address on Tolstoy to the United Nations. Among his many honors were the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. His wife, Emma J. Wasiolek, AB’57, AM’67, died in January (see below). He is survived by a daughter and a son.

Heshmat Moayyad, professor emeritus of Persian, of Chicago, died June 25. He was 90. When he joined the UChicago faculty in 1966, Moayyad established the Persian literature program in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, where he taught until his retirement in 2010. A translator of modern Persian literature into English and German, he edited Short Stories from Iran: A Chicago Anthology, 1921–1991 (1992), featuring translations of Iranian prose fiction by his students and colleagues, and published numerous scholarly works in English, German, and Persian on writers from the 12th to the 20th centuries. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; two daughters, Leyla M. Dias, LAB’77, and Shirin Moayyad, LAB’80; and a grandson.

June Pachuta Farris, bibliographer for Slavic and East European studies and general linguistics at the Joseph Regenstein Library, of Chicago, died July 27. She was 70. Farris was the Slavic bibliographer and later the Slavic reference librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before joining the Regenstein Library in 1986, where she built a world-class archive and reference collection that supported UChicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies. She coauthored Women and Gender in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia: A Comprehensive Bibliography (2007) and in 2012 received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. She is survived by her husband, David, and a daughter, Margaret Farris, LAB’04.

Kirk T. Spencer, MD’89, professor of medicine, of Homewood, IL, died September 4. He was 56. A clinician, researcher, and teacher at UChicago Medicine for more than two decades, Spencer was a cardiologist who specialized in the field of echocardiography. He served as associate director of UChicago Medicine’s cardiac imaging laboratories, director of echocardiography laboratories, and physician administrator of the inpatient cardiology service. In addition to mentoring medical fellows in echocardiography, he taught in the residency program and the medical school. He was also involved in mission work with Solutions Church in Matteson, IL. He is survived by his wife, Jacque; two daughters; five sons; and two grandchildren.


Eunice Killen Lyman, EX’40, died May 4 in Farmington, CT. She was 98. For three decades Lyman was director of budgets and grants for the University of Connecticut Health Center’s human genetics laboratory. The longtime assistant treasurer for Grace Episcopal Church in Hartford, CT, she also worked into her 90s as bookkeeper for her daughter’s dental practice. She is survived by two daughters; a son; two stepdaughters; and a granddaughter.

Stuart Bernstein, AB’42, JD’47, died July 31 in Chicago. He was 98. A World War II US Army Air Corps veteran, Bernstein spent his legal career with the firm now known as Mayer Brown, where his clients included United Airlines, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Oscar Mayer. He helped found Congregation Solel in Highland Park, IL, and served on the boards of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the ACLU of Illinois, and WTTW Chicago. He is survived by his wife, Doris (Golding) Bernstein, AB’43; a daughter, Barbara Bernstein, AB’70; three sons; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Chloe (Roth) Zerwick, LAB’39, AB’43, died June 13 in Hudson, NY. She was 95. A writers bureau staffer for the Democratic Party’s 1956 and 1960 presidential nominees and a consulting writer for the Institute for World Order and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Zerwick coauthored the science fiction novel The Cassiopeia Affair (1968) and, while working in publicity for Steuben Glass, wrote A Short History of Glass (1980). She retired as Steuben’s director of public relations in 1989 and pursued her work as an artist through numerous exhibitions. She is survived by a daughter, Phoebe Zerwick, AB’82, and a son.

Betty M. (Bunes) Wolfson, PhB’45, died July 12 in New York City. She was 91. After majoring in anthropology at UChicago, Wolfson studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in the early 1950s, and in 1966 settled with her family in Syracuse, NY. She and her husband, Robert J. Wolfson, SB’47, AM’50, PhD’56, moved to New York City in 2002 to enjoy retirement close to family and the arts. She is survived by her husband; two daughters; a son, Paul J. Wolfson, AB’78; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Riley Schaeffer, SB’46, PhD’49, of Port Orchard, WA, died April 15. An inorganic chemist who researched boron hydride and carborane compounds, Schaeffer taught chemistry at Iowa State University, Indiana University, the University of Wyoming, and the University of New Mexico. Coauthor of the Harper & Row textbook Chemistry (1973) and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he was both a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Britain. He is survived by a daughter, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Beatrice “Buddy” Cummings Mayer, EX’47, died September 15 in Chicago. She was 97. During World War II, Mayer volunteered with the Red Cross in Chicago, where she worked with the families of service members struggling with illness, poverty, and stress, and later trained in psychiatric social work at the School of Social Service Administration. In the mid-1950s she became an original member of the SSA Council, a committee on which she served for more than five decades. She and her husband, Robert B. Mayer, LAB’27, PhB’31, were cofounders of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and helped create its Mayer Education Center. Her husband died in 1974. Her son, Robert N. Mayer, MBA’73, died in 2015. She is survived by a daughter and five grandchildren.

Jane Pugh, AB’47, of Downers Grove, IL, died August 8. She was 90. A retired administrative services officer with the City of Chicago, Pugh was also director emeritus of the Downers Grove Historical Society. She served on the boards of the Hyde Park–Kenwood Community Conference, the Renaissance Society, and Friends Against AIDS, an auxiliary group of UChicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. Survivors include extended family and many friends.

Monroe Ackerman, AB’49, JD’52, of Wellington, FL, died August 15, 2017. He was 92. A World War II US Army Air Corps veteran, Ackerman practiced family law in New Jersey until his retirement. He published historical research on the US Civil War, including journal articles on the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln. He is survived by his daughter, Allison Ackerman, AB’80; a brother; and two grandchildren.

Jay C. Chapin, PhB’49, SM’51, of Salem, MA, died May 25. He was 93. A World War II US Navy veteran, Chapin was a laboratory chemist whose patents included a fire retardant for fabrics and a fungicide for fabrics in tropical climates. Working into his late 80s, he received the Distinguished Chemist Award from the New England Institute of Chemists in 2008. He and his former wife, Cynthia S. Hendry-Phillips, LAB’45, PhB’50, met at UChicago and raised their three children in Hyde Park (see below). He is survived by two daughters, a son, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


Cynthia S. Hendry-Phillips, LAB’45, PhB’50, of Marblehead, MA, died December 17. She was 88. In addition to stints as a newspaper editor for the Hyde Park Herald and the Marblehead Messenger, Hendry-Phillips wrote and cowrote children’s books in the 1960s and ’70s, including What Will the Weather Be? (1965), Squad Car 55 (1966), and Healthy Is Happy (1971). She was later a textbook editor at Little, Brown and Company. She and her former husband, Jay C. Chapin, PhB’49, SM’51, met at UChicago and raised their three children in Hyde Park (see above). She is survived by her husband, Charles; two daughters; a son; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Richardson L. Spofford, MBA’50, of Chicago, died in early July. He was 98. A World War II US Army veteran, Spofford worked as a tax accountant and was a longtime Hyde Park–Kenwood community member. He collected antiques and rugs, had a passion for historical research and scholarship, and was active in the Chicago Literary Club and the Caxton Club. His wife, Janice B. Spofford, PhB’44, SB’46, PhD’55, associate professor emerita of ecology and evolution, died in late March (see above). He is survived by two sons, John Spofford, LAB’78, and George B. Spofford, LAB’83, and four grandchildren.

Theodore “Ted” A. Snyder Jr., AB’52, died June 29 in Walhalla, SC. He was 85. After serving as a US Army JAG Corps lawyer in Korea, Snyder practiced law in Greenville, SC, with US and South Carolina senator Thomas A. Wofford, later running his own law office in Walhalla until retiring in 1999. A dedicated conservationist, he was the first chair of the Sierra Club’s North and South Carolina chapter, served as Sierra Club president for two years in the late 1970s, and received the National Parks Conservation Association’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Award in 2002 for his work to protect the Great Smoky Mountains. He is survived by a son and two brothers.

Thomas L. Harris, AM’56, died March 26 in Highland Park, IL. He was 86. In the early 1970s Harris founded a public relations division for the Chicago-based advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding, and later that decade became coexecutive of Golin/Harris Communications, a public relations firm whose clients included McDonald’s, Campbell Soup Company, Frito-Lay, and Keebler. Uniting public relations and marketing, he authored such books as The Marketer’s Guide to Public Relations: How Today’s Top Companies Are Using the New PR to Gain a Competitive Edge (1991). He is survived by two sons and two grandchildren.

Robert W. Huff, SM’56, PhD’61, died July 26 in Los Angeles. He was 84. An expert in particle, high-energy, and plasma physics, Huff worked as a research scientist at institutions including Carnegie Mellon University, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, the RAND Corporation, Nagoya University, and the University of California, Los Angeles, from which he retired in 1992. He is survived by his wife, Kumiko; a daughter; and a brother.

Dennis O. Adrian, AB’57, of Chicago, died in late February. He was 80. The former assistant curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was an authority on the city’s contemporary art scene. Through his criticism, collecting, and curatorial projects, Adrian helped establish an international reputation for Chicago, and for the artists known as the Chicago Imagists in particular, in the post–World War II art world. Selections from his art criticism were published in Sight Out of Mind: Essays and Criticism on Art (1985). He is survived by his partner, Richard A. Born, AM’75, consulting curator for special projects at the Smart Museum of Art.

Emma J. Wasiolek, AB’57, AM’67, died January 25 in Naples, FL. She was 88. Wasiolek taught English at Prairie State College for two decades beginning in the early 1970s. Her husband, Edward Wasiolek, died May 3 (see above). She is survived by a daughter and a son.

Richard F. Muth, PhD’58, of Atlanta, died April 10. He was 90. Muth taught economics at UChicago; Vanderbilt University; the University of California, Berkeley; and Stanford University before moving to Emory University in 1983, where he chaired the economics department, helped launch its doctoral program, and after more than a quarter century retired as Fuller E. Callaway Professor Emeritus of Economics. His book Cities and Housing: The Spatial Pattern of Urban Residential Land Use (1969) is a foundational text in urban economics. He is survived by his wife, Helene; two daughters; and a granddaughter.


David Handel, SM’60, PhD’65, of Farmington Hills, MI, died March 14. He was 79. Handel was professor emeritus of mathematics at Wayne State University, where he taught since 1972. He previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Washington. An expert in algebraic topology, he was a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. He is survived by his wife, Julie; two sons; a sibling; and two grandchildren.

James L. Klemm, SB’61, of Frankfort, IN, died January 29. He was 78. Klemm taught mathematics and engineering at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cincinnati before joining the information technology company NCR Corporation, where he worked until 1993. He was later a systems analyst and programmer for a small consulting firm. He is survived by his wife, Martha; a daughter; a son; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Eric P. Unander, SB’63, of Houston, died October 17, 2017. He was 79. Unander worked as a systems analyst for the steel manufacturer Armco, now AK Steel, for more than two decades before joining the natural gas and electric utility company CenterPoint Energy, formerly Houston Lighting & Power. He is survived by his wife, Katherine; a sister; two brothers; and a grandchild.

Rachel Cowan, AM’65, died August 31 in New York City. She was 77. A convert to Judaism and a prominent rabbi in the Reform tradition, Cowan served as program director of Jewish life at the Nathan Cummings Foundation and later as executive director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She helped found and lead the contemporary Jewish healing movement, promoted a revival of contemplative practice in Jewish religious life, and raised awareness about the needs and challenges of interfaith families. In addition to the memoir Growing Up Yanqui (1975), her books included Mixed Blessings: Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks in an Interfaith Marriage (1988), coauthored with her late husband, Paul. She is survived by a daughter; a son; two sisters; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Raymond W. Nackoney, SM’65, PhD’72, of Lake Villa, IL, died April 19. He was 74. Nackoney earned his doctorate in astrophysics at UChicago and taught for more than three decades at Loyola University, retiring as associate professor of environmental science in 2011. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; two daughters; two sons; a sister; and a brother.

Joseph “Jay” A. Nigro, AB’65, of Libertyville, IL, died May 19. He was 75. A business lawyer, Nigro practiced with the Kansas City–based firm Popham, Thompson, Popham, Trustey & Conway before joining American Hospital Supply Corporation, later Baxter International; Voluntary Hospitals of America, later VHA; and Dade Behring, later Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. He cofounded the Evanston Bar Association and served as commissioner of the Evanston Human Relations Commission. He is survived by his wife, Linda; six children; a sister; two brothers; and seven grandchildren.

Dean E. Grant, MBA’67, died May 10 in McHenry, IL. He was 74. Grant served as a hospital administrator at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, IL, before becoming president and CEO of Alexian Brothers Health System, now AMITA Health. During more than three decades with Alexian Brothers, he oversaw its growth as a hospital network in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. In 1979 he published the book How to Negotiate Physicians’ Contracts. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne; a daughter; a son; and five grandchildren.

Robert D. Rugg, AM’67, of Richmond, VA, died June 25. He was 75. After a stint teaching at Chicago State University, Rugg joined the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he taught in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning for nearly three decades. A geographer who combined mapping and computer science, he advised the US Geological Survey on the development of the Spatial Data Transfer Standard and served as a US delegate to the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee on Geographic Information/Geomatics. He is survived by his wife, Sallie; a daughter; three sons; a sister; and six grandchildren.

Lynn Urwitz Drew, AM’68, died November 21, 2017, in Chicago. She was 76. A clinical social worker, Drew worked for more than three decades in child and adolescent psychiatry at UChicago, in addition to teaching and supervising students in their fieldwork at the School of Social Service Administration. An advocate for family-building issues, she founded a local chapter of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. She is survived by her husband, James B. Drew, AM’64, and two daughters, Leah Tova Drew, LAB’99, and Anya Drew, LAB’05.

Evan P. Galen, BFA’68, died of cancer May 6, 2017, in New York City. He was 69. For four decades Galen practiced architecture and interior design in New York City; Beverly Hills, CA; and Maine. He was president of his own firm, Evan Galen Architecture/Design. Survivors include his husband, Stephen Novick.

Robert B. McOsker, AM’68, died June 17 in Vienna, VA. He was 73. A decorated Vietnam War US Army veteran, McOsker worked for more than four decades in the federal government, primarily with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he became the Office of the Chairman’s special assistant for administration and communications and received Special Act Awards recognizing his service. He is survived by his wife, Hue Thi; a daughter; a sister; and a grandchild.

Alan R. McNeil, LAB’69, of Kalispell, MT, died of a heart attack December 29, 2017. He was 66. After working at a Chicago trading firm, McNeil joined a subsidiary of the game manufacturing company Stern Electronics, where he designed the 1980 arcade and home video game Berzerk. A longtime resident of Flathead County, MT, he served on the board of the North Fork Preservation Association and was a member of other area organizations. He is survived by a daughter; a son; his mother, Cecily R. McNeil, AM’77; and a brother, Bruce B. McNeil, LAB’71.


Thomas W. Graber, AB’70, died February 28 in Chicago. He was 69. An emergency medicine physician who practiced, directed programs, and taught at hospitals in northeast Ohio, Graber served as clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at Case Western Reserve University, where he founded the Center for Advanced Medical Learning. He also cofounded the Northeast Ohio Society of Emergency Medicine and directed the TeamHealth Institute for Education and Patient Safety. He is survived by his wife, Ellen; three daughters, including Emily E. Graber, AB’11; a sister; three brothers; and three grandchildren.

Joshua M. Wiener, AB’71, of Washington, DC, died January 9. He was 68. After working as a policy analyst and researcher at the Urban Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Congressional Budget Office, and other organizations and agencies, Wiener became a fellow in RTI International’s Social, Scientific, and Environmental Sciences group, serving as director of the Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care Program. Survivors include his wife, Susan F. Klinger; three sons; and a sister.

Barry N. Eigen, MBA’73, of Cedar Park, TX, died May 16. He was 77. For nearly 25 years, Eigen was president and CEO of the Milwaukee-based home health care company Sickroom Services, later HealthCall Corporation. In 1990 he published How to Think Like a Boss and Get Ahead at Work, launching a career as a keynote and motivational speaker and in business consulting. In retirement he was an artist based in the Austin, TX, area. He is survived by his wife, Chris; three daughters; a son; a stepdaughter; a stepson; two sisters; two brothers; and three grandchildren.

Michelle R. Howard-Vital, AB’74, MAT’75, of Durham, NC, died of cancer August 21. She was 65. Howard-Vital worked in higher education as a teacher and administrator for more than three decades. After holding academic leadership positions at institutions including Chicago State University, Edinboro University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, she served as president of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (2007–14) and later became provost of Florida Memorial University. She is survived by her husband, Geri Vital; a daughter; a stepson; a sister; and a brother.

Gary D. Cady, EX’75, of Sioux Falls, SD, died July 23, 2017. He was 64. Cady was the founder and co-owner, with his wife, Kevin, of the Sioux Falls bicycle shop Bike Masters until 2007, when they sold the business and retired. In retirement, they devoted time to road trips and other travels. Survivors include two daughters; a sister; a brother; and a granddaughter.

James W. Yood, AM’76, died of a heart attack April 20 in Chicago. He was 65. After teaching at several Chicago-area universities, Yood joined the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was associate professor of art history, theory, and criticism and director of the New Arts Journalism Program. He served for a time as managing editor of New Art Examiner and contributed to Spirited Visions: Portraits of Chicago Artists (1991) and Second Sight: Printmaking in Chicago, 1935–1995 (1996), among other books. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine Peltz; a daughter; a sister; and a brother.


Fidel L. Lopez, MBA’85, of Venice, FL, died January 17. He was 80. After working for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, Lopez joined architectural firm Bornebusch, Bruel, and Selchau in Copenhagen, where he studied town planning. Returning to the states, he founded Dearborn Associates of Chicago, an architectural and planning firm, and the Chicago Rehab Network, a free consultancy for housing and community development organizations. He later became vice president of Broadacre Consulting Company, and from 2009 until his retirement in 2013 he was project director for the Dobbins Group. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; three daughters; a sister; a brother; and four grandchildren.


Ramón Santiago Aracena, AM’92, of Arlington, VA, died December 8, 2017. He was 59. Aracena was chief economist for Latin America at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, DC. A native of Chile, he led studies on policy outlook and country risk for investments in Latin America. He is survived by his daughter, Katherine A. Aracena, a graduate student in the Biological Sciences Division; a sister; and two brothers.


Brett E. Norman, AB’06, of Washington, DC, died of pancreatic cancer April 21. He was 43. A journalist who wrote about health care, policy, and politics, Norman started his career at Florida’s Pensacola News Journal, where he reported on crime, court proceedings, and local government. After working as a science writer at Rockefeller University, he joined Politico as a health care reporter in 2011, covering the Affordable Care Act, bioethical issues, and policy surrounding the pharmaceutical industry. He is survived by his wife, Kate Dailey; two sons; his mother; and a brother.