Robert Fogel, 1926–2013. (Photography by Dustin Whitehead/Chicago Booth)
University obituaries

Recent faculty, staff, board, and alumni obituaries.

Trustees and friends

William B. Johnson, trustee emeritus, died April 24 in Lake Forest, IL. He was 94. After serving as president of the Railway Express Agency, Johnson came to Chicago in 1966 to become president, CEO, and a director of the Illinois Central Railroad and its parent company, IC Industries. In 1972 he was elected chair and CEO of IC Industries, leading the acquisition of more than 100 consumer, industrial, and manufacturing companies and growing IC Industries (now Whitman Corporation) to a Fortune 100 company. In 1987, two years after Crain’s Chicago Business named him Executive of the Year, Johnson became the company’s chairman emeritus but remained a director at Illinois Central Railroad until 1999. Among his awards and honors are the American Academy of Achievement’s 1973 Golden Plate Award, Loyola University Chicago’s 1986 Damen Award for Civic Leadership, and his 2001 induction into the Cooperstown Conference Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement in the railroad industry. Survivors include a daughter; two sons, including Kirk Barb Johnson, JD’73; and six grandchildren.  

Faculty and Staff

Robert Fogel, the Charles R. Walgreen distinguished service professor of American institutions, died June 11 in Oak Lawn, IL. He was 86. After teaching at UChicago and Harvard, Fogel rejoined the University’s economics faculty in 1981, remaining for the rest of his career and also serving as director of the UChicago Center for Population Economics and as a faculty member in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought. Awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in economics for his controversial work on the economics of slavery, Fogel pioneered the use of quantitative methods in economic history with research ranging from railroads’ role in American economic development to demography and how standards of living affect health and longevity. The author or coauthor of 22 books, including the two-volume Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery (Little, Brown, and Company, 1974), Fogel was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was chosen as one of the “1,000 Makers of the 20th Century” by the London Times. In 2006 he was recognized by the Alliance for Aging Research as its Indispensable Person of the Year for Health Research. Fogel is survived by two sons, including Michael Fogel, U-High’67, MBA’77; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Joel Schwab, professor of pediatrics, died of metastatic gastric cancer June 21 in Chicago. He was 67. Joining UChicago in 1986, Schwab served on the Pritzker School of Medicine’s curriculum and admissions committees and directed the pediatric clerkship. A mentor for students and colleagues, Schwab received several Pritzker honors, including the Faculty Teaching Award, the Outstanding Clinical Teaching Award, and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. On the day he died, he was to be the inaugural recipient of an award named in his honor at the University of Chicago Medicine’s annual residents award ceremony. Survivors include his wife, Gail; two daughters; a son; a brother; and five grandchildren.

George W. Stocking Jr., the Stein-Freiler distinguished service professor emeritus of anthropology and in the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, died July 13 in Chicago. He was 84. Best known for his study of the history of anthropology and reassessments of its pioneers, Stocking taught at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining UChicago in 1968. His first book, Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (University of Chicago Press, 1968), redefined the accepted history of the field. In 1981 Stocking became director of UChicago’s Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine. The founding editor of the History of Anthropology book series (University of Wisconsin Press) for 18 years, Stocking received two University awards for teaching: a 1994 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and a 2011 Norman Maclean Faculty Award from UChicago’s Alumni Association. Survivors include his wife, Carol A. Stocking, AM’75, PhD’78; four daughters; a son; two sisters; ten grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.  


Jean Henrietta Port Hayward, SB’33, died May 22 in Boise, ID. She was 101. A teacher in Chicago and later in Riverside, CA, Hayward was the president of local organizations, including the Junior League of Riverside and the Riverside Historical Museum board, and was active at her local Presbyterian church. Hayward is survived by a daughter, two sons, six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.  


William J. Durka, AB’43, JD’44, of Greenfield Center, NY, died May 12. He was 91. After becoming a partner at former Federal Communications Commission chair James Lawrence Fly’s communications law firm, Durka joined the General Electric Company in 1956. He retired as the manager of GE’s international trade policy group. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a daughter; a stepdaughter; and two step-grandchildren.

Walter Kemetick, AB’43, died February 20 in Westminster, MD. He was 92. Captain of the tennis team at UChicago, Kemetick later sold life insurance in Washington, DC. In retirement, he was a substitute teacher before moving to Sunset Beach, NC. Survivors include two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Reva Logan, X’43, died July 22 in Chicago. She was 91. With her husband, the late David S. Logan, AB’39, JD’41, Logan supported arts and journalism efforts around the country through the Reva and David Logan Foundation. A $35 million gift to UChicago from the Logan family led to the establishment of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, which opened in 2012. The initial sponsors of the Jazz Loft Project of the Center for Documentary Studies, the couple also helped to establish the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting; contributed to the PBS program Frontline and the Ken Burns documentary series Jazz; and endowed the annual Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium for reporters and journalism students at the University of California, Berkeley. Logan taught for many years at the Winnetka Community Nursery School. Survivors include three sons, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Bernard Sahlins, AB’43, cofounder of Chicago comedy venue the Second City, died June 16 in Chicago. He was 90. With Paul Sills, AB’51, Sahlins was a founding member of UChicago-based comedy troupe the Compass Players (often credited with inventing modern improvisational comedy), and in 1959 the two teamed up with Howard Alk, X’49, to found the Second City. Sahlins, who had also produced conventional plays at the Studebaker Theater, directed and produced many Second City sketch shows until the 1990s, helping comedians such as Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray launch their careers. After establishing a second theater in Toronto, Sahlins cofounded Canadian TV comedy series SCTV. Selling the business in 1984, Sahlins remained active in the Chicago theater scene, founding the International Theatre Festival of Chicago in 1986; directing productions at institutions including Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and directing staged readings for the Poetry Foundation. The author of the 2001 memoir Days and Nights at the Second City (Ivan R. Dee), Sahlins received a 1989 University of Chicago Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award and several Joseph Jefferson “Jeff” Awards for directing. Survivors include his wife, Jane, and a brother, Marshall Sahlins, the Charles F. Grey distinguished service professor emeritus of anthropology and the social sciences at the University.

Virginia (Placzkiewicz) Wrobel, AB’44, of Chicago, died May 28. She was 90. A Chicago Public Schools teacher since the 1960s, Wrobel taught eighth grade at Anderson Elementary School for the last 25 years of her career. Her husband, Frank J. Wrobel, AB’44, JD’48, died in 1987. She is survived by four sons, Frank Stanley Wrobel, AB’71, JD’74; Stanley J. Wrobel, AB’72, JD’75; John Gregory Wrobel, AB’73; and Gregory Gene Wrobel, AB’75, JD’78, MBA’79, and 11 grandchildren, including Danielle E. Wrobel, AB’12, MPP’13; Giovanni Wrobel, AB’13; and Giuliano G. Wrobel, ’14.

Shirley Daniels Marks, PhB’45, died May 23 in Phoenix, AZ. She was 87. From 1975 to 1988, Marks worked in the University’s Office of the Comptroller. Survivors include a daughter, a son, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. 

Ernest Carl Anderson, PhD’49, of Chula Vista, CA, died May 20. He was 92. After helping to invent radiocarbon dating at UChicago, Anderson worked at Los Alamos National Laboratories, where he studied the health hazards associated with nuclear energy. The author of many published works, Anderson received awards including a 1966 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the Atomic Energy Commission. Survivors include a daughter, seven grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Edward R. de Grazia, AB’48, JD’51, free-speech lawyer, professor, playwright, and author, died April 11 in Rockville, MD. He was 86. Raised in a musical family, de Grazia played the clarinet, sketched, and dreamed of becoming an artist. After the military and law school, he worked at UNESCO in Paris. In the Supreme Court of the United States and elsewhere, he defended and largely freed Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, Bruce’s satirical comedy, Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, Sjoman’s I Am Curious—Yellow, and antiwar protesters at the Pentagon, including Mailer. Throughout, de Grazia taught First Amendment law at schools including Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, which he cofounded. Respecting art, de Grazia ghostwrote the novel Three Day Pass—To Kill; wrote avant-garde plays, including The Americans, The Swings, and The Vacuum Cleaner; inspired Keaton’s starring in Samuel Beckett’s Film; and wrote books on censorship, including Banned Films (Bowker, 1982) and Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius (Random House, 1992). He is survived by two daughters, including Elizabeth (DeGrazia) Blumenfeld, AB’88; sons David DeGrazia, AB’83, and Christophe John deGrazia, AB’78, AM’05; a brother, Alfred de Grazia, AB’39, PhD’48; and three grandchildren.  


David A. Nelson, AB’51, AM’54, died June 24 in Scarborough, ME. He was 84. An Air Force veteran, Nelson taught Renaissance drama and English literature at Bates College from 1960 until his 1992 retirement. In retirement, he studied Buddhism and traveled with his wife, Dirane Kelekyan. Nelson is survived by his wife; a daughter, Stephanie Nelson, AM’90, PhD’92; a son; and four grandchildren.

Betty Lou Powers, AM’53, of Vermillion, SD, died May 14. She was 98. After teaching elementary school in the Chicago Public Schools, Powers earned a home economics degree from the University. She then chaired the home economics department at Chicago’s Lindblom Technical High School (now Lindblom Math and Science Academy). On the side, she became a local fashion and hair design model. Retiring from teaching in 1965, Powers moved with her second husband, Clem, to Boulder, CO, where she worked as an interior decorator and taught antiques classes. She is survived by her husband; two sons, including James A. McBride, SB’63, MAT’66, PhD’74; and two grandchildren, including Logan McBride, U-High’00.  


James M. Hopper, MBA’60, of Little Rock, AR, died June 25. He was 78. Hopper started his career at W. R. Grace & Co., working as a sales engineer and as a product manager, before joining Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in 1968 as assistant to the dean and director of development. In 1972 Hopper returned to UChicago as assistant dean of the Graduate School of Business (now Chicago Booth), later serving as associate dean. As a vice president at Clark University until 1992, he led Clark’s first successful multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign. Hopper also served on the development board of two horticultural organizations in Worcester, MA, becoming senior vice president of the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans in 1992. He retired in 1994. Survivors include a cousin.

Liam S. Rooney, AB’60, AM’68, of Kingman, AZ, died June 2. He was 83. An educator, Rooney taught kindergarten in Evanston, IL, and in the Hackberry School District in Kingman as well as at the Joe Cook Shock Incarceration Facility and Training Center and Mohave Community College. In retirement, he volunteered as a tutor to African refugees. Survivors include two daughters, six sons, two brothers, and four grandchildren. Joan R. Saks Berman, AB’62, of Albuquerque, NM, died May 17. She was 72. A practicing psychologist and a longtime member of the women’s collective Rainbow Artists, Berman was active in local politics and as a first responder for the Red Cross. Survivors include a nephew, a grandniece, a grandnephew, and her cousins.

John R. Stanek, AB’64, died May 25 in Chicago. He was 76. An Army veteran, Stanek was a pioneer in the field of employee research. After teaching sociology at UChicago and directing survey research at its industrial relations center, in 1974 Stanek, with his wife, Gay, started the Chicago-based International Survey Research, conducting employee surveys and working with clients including AT&T and Union Carbide. Over the next three decades, the company grew into a global research firm before being sold to Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson) in 2007. Stanek created a fund at UChicago to support undergraduate education. Survivors include his wife; a brother, Robert G. Stanek, AB’67, MBA’71; a nephew; two nieces; and four grandnephews.

James Alden Van Vechten, SM’66, PhD’69, a materials scientist, died June 20 in Portland, OR. He was 70. A Navy veteran, Van Vechten served as an officer at the Naval Research Laboratory, then worked at Bell Labs and the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. In 1985 he joined Oregon State University as a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and he became a research professor in 2000. In retirement, Van Vechten researched the viability of a method of producing safe, convenient, and greenhouse-neutral fuel. His honors include a Department of Navy Commendation for Scientific Achievement and five patent achievement awards at IBM. He is survived by his wife, Wendy; two sons; a brother; and a sister.  


Hayward “Woody” Farrar Jr., AM’71, PhD’83, an African studies and history scholar, died May 31 in Blacksburg, VA. He was 63. A student of John Hope Franklin at UChicago, Farrar helped start the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Maryland and taught at a number of historically black colleges. In 1992 he joined the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he was adviser of the school’s NAACP chapter, was a member of the Africana Studies Executive Board, and served as a mentor for underrepresented students and students in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. The author of The Baltimore Afro-American, 1892–1950 (Greenwood Press, 1998), Farrar received awards including Virginia Tech’s 1998 Black Caucus Faculty Member of the Year Award. Survivors include a brother.  


Sishir Bhattarai, MPP’07, died March 28 of a stroke in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was 36. Bhattarai was a senior consultant on governance and public policy for the Asian Development Bank. Survivors include his wife, Liza Sigdel Bhattari; a son; and his parents.