Tag Archive for obit

Wilbur Remembered for Founding Wes Press’s Poetry Series

Richard Wilbur taught English classes at Wesleyan for 20 years. 

Richard Wilbur, pictured third from left, taught English and literature classes at Wesleyan for 20 years. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives)

Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur, eminent poet and former professor of English, died Oct. 14 at the age of 96. Wilbur joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1957 and taught here until 1977. During his two decades at Wesleyan, he received the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Things of This World (1956), was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and founded the renowned Wesleyan University Press poetry series.

Over his long and distinguished career as a poet and translator, he was appointed as national poet laureate, received two Pulitzer Prizes, a National Medal of the Arts, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the T.S. Eliot Award, and the Frost Medal, among others.

Wilbur died at a nursing home in Belmont, Mass. A memorial celebrating his life and work is being planned on campus in the spring.

Read Wilbur’s obituaries in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and on NPR.

(Information for this article is provided by Wesleyan’s Office of Academic Affairs)

Resident Writer Reed Remembered for being a Fierce Advocate for Students, Fiction

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed died on Sunday, Sept. 24, in Los Angeles, Calif., at the age of 85.

After several post-college years as an award-winning journalist, Kit Reed moved to Middletown in 1960 when her husband, Joe Reed, took a position with Wesleyan’s English Department. Kit Reed became a visiting professor of English in 1974, an adjunct professor of English in 1987, and resident writer in 2008. A former Guggenheim fellow, Reed was the first American recipient of an international literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation. Her work has been nominated for the Locus Award, the Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Tiptree Award and she was twice nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award.

Reed was instrumental in the construction of the Creative Writing Program, helping to attract notable writers from across the country, both within the program and yearly at the Wesleyan Writers Conference. She was a fierce advocate for her students and for fiction itself. Many notable writers came through her care, including Stephen Alter, Suzanne Berne, Peter Blauner, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snickett), Akiva Goldsman, Nina Shengold, DB Weiss (Game of Thrones), and Zack Whedon, as well as many others who remained dear, lifelong friends.

Reed, by last count, wrote 39 books of fiction. As her daughter Kate Maruyama noted, “Kit’s last novel, MORMAMA, came out the day she went in for a biopsy. Her last short story, Disturbance in the Produce Aisle, came out in Asimov’s Magazine the month that she died. May we all be that dedicated, determined and prolific.”

Linton Remembered for Teaching Mathematics at Wesleyan for 43 Years

Fred Linton

Fred E. J. Linton, professor of mathematics, emeritus, died Sept. 2 at the age of 79.

Linton was born in Italy to parents who were escaping to the United States from Hitler’s Germany. He studied mathematics at Yale and received his PhD from Columbia, then came directly to Wesleyan as an assistant professor in 1963. He became a full professor in 1972 and continued to teach mathematics here until his retirement in 2006, after a total of 43 years at Wesleyan. Linton supervised seven PhD students at Wesleyan, including one of the first Wesleyan doctoral students.

Linton was a highly respected mathematician whose area of research focused on category theory. He participated in many scientific conferences over the years and his papers on functorial semantics were quite famous. Linton also engaged deeply in other interests including international folk dancing, which he enjoyed throughout his entire adult life, classical music, traveling, and Indian literature and philosophy. He and his wife, Barbara Mikolajewska, published 12 volumes of the Polish translation of the Sanskrit epic poem, the “Mahabharata.”

Memorial contributions can be made to the Louis August Jonas Foundation (LAJF) and Camp Rising Sun (CRS), an international, full-scholarship leadership program, at 77 Bleecker St, C2-13, New York, NY 10012 or by e-mail at contact@lajf.org.

Winslow Remembered for Establishing World Music Program

Richard Winslow '40 received a Doctor of Letters at the 2010 Commencement. President Roth announced the establishment of the Richard K. Winslow chair in music, made possible by a generous gift from the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Richard Winslow ’40 received a Doctor of Letters at the 2010 commencement. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Richard Winslow, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, died July 24, 2017 at the age of 99. A service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Antrim Baptist Church, 85 Main St. in Antrim, N.H. All are welcome.

Winslow received his BA in English from Wesleyan with the Class of 1940, and his BS and MS from the Julliard School. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1949 and taught music here for 34 years until he retired in 1983. During this time, he advocated for and oversaw the establishment of Wesleyan’s renowned program in world music and had a profound influence on the lives of many students and colleagues.

His friend and colleague, Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, said “Without Winslow, Wesleyan would never have had the visionary music department of such ambition, scope, and radicalism that it continues to enjoy. He was a kind of radical Yankee in the spirit of Thoreau and Ives. Dick was a figure from an old Wesleyan who ensured that music would have permanent prominence in a small liberal arts college, affecting the world of music in countries, institutions, and concert halls around the globe as the ‘energy’ (his favorite word) of the place radiated outward.”

Gaudon Remembered for Scholarly Research on Victor Hugo

Sheila Gaudon, professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, died on Feb. 19 at the age of 83.

Born in Liverpool, England, Gaudon received a BA from Manchester University, and a “Docteur de l’Université des Sciences humaines de Strasbourg.” She joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1970 and taught French literature courses in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department for 23 years. She served as director of the Wesleyan Program in Paris several times and as department chair.

Gaudon was an active scholar whose research focused on Victor Hugo. She worked extensively with the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) in Paris over many years. In 1982 she began a three-year appointment as “Chargée de recherches” at the CNRS to prepare the first volumes of Victor Hugo’s family correspondence. After retiring to Paris in 1993, she continued to use an office at the Victor Hugo museum, which houses one of the largest archive collections in Paris. Gaudon spoke at colloquia around Europe throughout her retirement on subjects concerning Hugo.

Gaudon will be remembered by her colleagues for the steady leadership she provided to the department.

“Those who were close to her will remember her as well as a remarkable cook, an unsurpassed lover of the stage, and a caring and loyal friend,” said Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish.

She is survived by her husband, Jean Gaudon, who lives in Paris.

Upgren Remembered for Protecting Night Sky from Light Pollution

Arthur Upgren in 1968. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)

Arthur Upgren in 1968. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)

Arthur Reinhold Upgren, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, died on Jan. 21, a month before his 84th birthday.

Upgren received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University before coming to Wesleyan as an assistant professor in 1966. He was the Director of the Van Vleck Observatory from 1973 to 1993. He held his endowed chair from 1982 until his retirement in 2000.

Upgren was an author or co-author of 285 publications in the astronomical literature, including one that appeared in 2016. His research interests were in the areas of parallax (distance measurement) of stars and galactic structure. For several decades, he directed an NSF-funded study that made use of the 20-inch Clark refractor on the Wesleyan campus to establish the first rung on the ladder of distances in the Universe.

Upgren friend Jim Gutmann, professor of earth and environmental sciences, emeritus, said, “Art was an avid reader, loved classical music and foreign travel, and could be counted on to provide explanations of many matters astrometric and meteorological.”

In addition to his work on galactic astronomy, Upgren had a keen interest in protecting the night sky from light pollution. He wrote a well-reviewed popular book titled The Turtle and the Stars that discussed the influence of light pollution on the breeding habits of leatherback turtles. He was an active member of the International Dark-Sky Association and a tireless advocate for intelligent lighting on the Wesleyan campus.

Arthur Upgren in 1987 at Wesleyan.. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)

Arthur Upgren in 1987 at Wesleyan. Upgren was director of the Van Vleck Observatory from 1973 to 1993. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)

Upgren is survived by his wife, Joan, his daughter Amy and her husband, and his two grandchildren, Max and Ella.

A memorial event will be planned for the future.

Comfort Remembered for Teaching Mathematics 40 Years at Wesleyan

Wis Comfort

Wis Comfort

William Wistar “Wis” Comfort II, the Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, died Nov. 28 at the age of 83.

Comfort received his BA from Haverford College, and an MSc and PhD from the University of Washington (Seattle) and was an expert on point-set topology, ultrafilters, set theory and topological groups. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1967 after teaching at Harvard, University of Rochester and University of Massachusetts (Amherst). Comfort taught in the mathematics department for 40 years until his retirement in 2007, where he supervised 17 PhD theses and three MA theses. He was a key figure in the founding of the Math Workshop, a drop-in help center for students that he directed for many years that remains widely used today.

Comfort was named an American Mathematical Society Fellow in the inaugural class of AMS Fellows in 2013 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. He was active in the AMS, serving as associate secretary of the Eastern Section and as the managing editor of the Proceedings of the AMS. He published three books, including Chain Conditions in Topology (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1982), and more than 100 mathematical papers.

Comfort was a Quaker, a musician who played the trombone in a Dixieland band, and a dignified gentleman who exuded collegiality. He is survived by his daughter, Martha, and his son, Howard. His beloved wife, longtime Wesleyan staff member Mary Connie Comfort, passed away in May 2016. His family requests that memorial contributions be made in Wis’s name to Middletown Friends Meeting (Quakers) or the Essex Meadows Employee Scholarship Fund. A memorial service will be held on campus in April 2017.

Barber Remembered as a Founding Member of the College of Social Studies

William Barber (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan's Special Collections and Archives)

William Barber (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives)

William J. Barber, the Andrews Professor of Economics, Emeritus, died Oct. 26 at the age of 91. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Jan. 28 in Memorial Chapel with a reception to follow in Daniel Family Commons.

Barber arrived at Wesleyan in 1957 after receiving his BA from Harvard University and completing a Rhodes Scholarship and earning a BA, MA and Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University. He taught at Wesleyan for 37 years before retiring in 1994. Barber was actively engaged in the leadership of the University throughout his time at Wesleyan. He was a founding member of the College of Social Studies, served as chair of the economics department and faculty secretary, and was appointed by the Board of Trustees as Acting President for three months in 1988 until President Chace assumed the office.

Barber was a productive scholar who published widely, including A History of Economic Thought, which after its release in 1967 became a standard in the field of economics for decades and was translated into seven languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and Farsi (Persian). He published 11 other books as author or editor, and hundreds of articles on economic trends and developments in the United States, Africa, Britain, Europe, India and other areas of Asia. He was the recipient of many honors and awards throughout his distinguished career, including the George Webb-Medley Prize in Economics from Oxford in 1950 and a Ford Foundation Foreign Area Fellowship for study in Africa from 1955-57, and he was twice appointed a research associate of the Brookings Institution. In 2002 he was honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society and in 2005 received a Honorary Doctor of Letters from Wesleyan. Barber served as the American Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarship Trust from 1970 to 1980; during this tenure he was instrumental in opening the Rhodes Scholarship to women and his service to the Trust was recognized by the British Government through his appointment as an honorary member of the Order of the British Empire.

On Nov. 23, Barber was featured in a Hartford Courant article titledExtraordinary Life: Economist Made A Career At Wesleyan.”

“Bill Barber was an academic who ‘came alive’ in the classroom, and whose major work on the history of economic thought was translated into more than a half dozen languages. He was an economist in the traditional sense: his approach was not quantitative but drew from many disciplines,” wrote author Anne M. Hamilton in the Courant article.

Barber’s friend, Richard Miller, said, “Bill was a valued friend and colleague for over half a century. He provided guidance, counsel, and support to me and to many others. The economics department and the University have been immeasurably stronger for his contributions and his leadership.”

Born a Midwesterner and having survived World War II as an infantry soldier, Barber found in Wesleyan his intellectual and emotional home. He loved the classroom as well as the intellectual freedom that the University offered. He was devoted to his family and is survived by his wife, Sheila, who herself has long been an active member of the Wesleyan community, and his sons, Charles, John, and Tom, their wives, and six grandchildren.

Memorial contributions in Bill Barber’s name may be made to Middlesex Hospital Hospice and Palliative Care at 28 Crescent Street, Middletown, CT 06457.

Swanson Called Wesleyan Coach of Running Elite

Boston Marathon winner and former Runners World editor Amby Burfoot, his former Wesleyan coach Elmer Swanson and Jeff Galloway, Olympian, author and coach and founder of the Galloway Run Walk Run method of running. (Lori Riley / Hartford Courant)

Boston Marathon winner and former Runners World editor Amby Burfoot ’68, his former Wesleyan coach Elmer Swanson and Jeff Galloway ’67, Olympian, author and coach and founder of the Galloway Run Walk Run method of running. (Lori Riley / Hartford Courant)

The list of athletes who ran on Elmer Swanson’s teams over the 30 years he served as Wesleyan’s track and cross-country coach “reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in elite running,” observed Hartford Courant Sports Columnist Lori Riley. She remembered Swanson, who died Aug. 12, at the age of 92, in an piece rich with comments from some of his well known—and fleet-footed —alumni.

Riley’s roundup notes: “He coached [Amby] Burfoot [’68], who won the Boston Marathon in 1968, his senior year, and went on to become the editor of Runners World magazine. He coached Bill Rodgers [’70], who won four Boston marathons and four New York City marathons and become one of the most recognizable runners in the world. He coached Jeff Galloway [’67], who ran the 10,000 meters in the 1972 Olympics and pioneered the Galloway Run-Walk-Run method, enabling many to start running and continue in the sport injury-free. He coached John Fixx [’83], son of Jim Fixx, who wrote the iconic “Complete Book of Running” during the height of the running boom in 1977. He coached Sebastian Junger [’84], who went on to become a filmmaker and author and wrote the best-seller The Perfect Storm (and also ran a 2:21 marathon).”

And, the praise from these runners for their college coach included these comments:  Junger, in a Facebook post, recalled Swanson as “such a source of calmness and love.’ Burfoot called Swanson “a rock… a second father.”  Galloway noted that “Elmer helped focus on that importance of running without making it overbearing,” and Fixx concurred: “Elmer’s runners seem to run longer after college, and continue to do better … It’s as though he paced his coaching so, in fact, our best years weren’t in college.”

De Boer Remembered for Teaching Connecticut Geology

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus, died July 23 at the age of 81.

De Boer received his BS and PhD from the University of Utrecht before coming to Wesleyan as a postdoctoral fellow in 1963. During his early years at Wesleyan he worked closely with Geology Professor Jim Balsley in the field of paleomagnetism. In 1977, de Boer was named the George I. Seney Professor of Geology and in 1984 he was named the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Sciences.

In the 1970s de Boer worked as a joint professor at the University of Rhode Island at the Marine Sciences Institute where he was a PhD supervisor for Bob Ballard, who found the Titanic in 1985. Ballard later invited de Boer to go diving in the submersible Alvin to collect rocks in the Cayman Trough.

Originally interested in coming to the United States to study the Appalachian Mountains, de Boer’s research focused on the geotectonics of the Appalachians, Southeast Asia and South and Central America.

In 2015 de Boer received the Joe Webb Peoples Award,

Professor Barlow Remembered as a Brilliant Pianist

Jon Barlow, professor of music, emeritus, died Dec. 15 at the age of 73.

Barlow arrived at Wesleyan in 1966 after receiving his BA and MA from Cornell University. He arrived as the Music Department began its visionary phase and taught in the department for 34 years. Grounded in “Western” music history, Barlow expanded his horizons geographically and conceptually, constantly creating innovative courses, which attracted serious students. Many of his students went on to become established composers, performers, musicologists and ethnomusicologists.

Firshein Remembered for being a Founding Member of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department

William "Bill" Firshein

William “Bill” Firshein

William “Bill” Firshein, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, emeritus, died Dec. 7 at the age of 85.

Firshein arrived at Wesleyan in 1958 after receiving his BS from Brooklyn College and his MS and PhD from Rutgers University. He taught at Wesleyan for 47 years before retiring in 2005.

Firshein was an active scholar who was awarded research grants totaling more than $2 million over his career. He investigated the molecular biology of DNA replication cell division in Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli and their plasmids. In his most recent book, The Infectious Microbe, published by Oxford University Press in January 2014, he discussed the relationship between humans and viruses and illustrated how pathogens are spread. This book was based on a very popular general education course that he taught for decades.

Firshein was a founding member of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department, and served as chair of MB&B for seven years, and as chair of the Biology Department for three years. He was instrumental in the establishment of the PhD programs in biology and MB&B.

The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department annually awards the William Firshein Prize in his honor to the graduating student who has contributed the most to the interests and character of the department each year.

William "Bill" Firshein. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

William “Bill” Firshein. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

“Bill was a true friend to his colleagues and always available for effective useful advice and guidance to the young faculty,” said Anthony Infante, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, emeritus.

Firshein is survived by his wife, Anna, and his children, Kyrill, Alex, David, Alan and Eva. His family requests that memorial contributions be made in his name to the Wesleyan Memorial Fund and sent to the care of Marcy Herlihy, University Relations, 318 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.

A memorial will take place at 4:15 p.m. Jan. 25 in Memorial Chapel. A reception will follow in Zelnick Pavillon.

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