Tag Archive for obit

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.

Nowell ’48, Lasker Prizewinner for Cancer Chromosome Finding, Dies at 88

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter C. Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88 and was a trustee emeritus of Wesleyan.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48, the Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, died Dec. 26, 2016, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88.

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan, Nowell earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in 1952. He joined the faculty in 1956 as a member of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, later serving as chair. He was also the first director of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, now known as the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1960, Nowell and colleague David Hungerford, then a graduate student working at the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Institute for Cancer Research, “made a startling observation that the number 22 chromosome in the tumor cells of individuals suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was abnormally small,” explains writer Bonnie Cook in the Philly.com obituary for Nowell. “The research broke new ground because it was the first consistent chromosome abnormality found in any kind of malignancy.” This came to be called “the Philadelphia chromosome.”

To put the enormity of the discovery in perspective, New York Times writer Denise Grady spoke to Mark Greene, director of the Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology Division at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who told her that, back in this era, “The notions of cancer were so bizarre. It was a total conundrum. There was no consistent theory at that time that was even recognized.”

“The finding,” wrote Grady, “published in 1960, took cancer research in a new direction, leading to an extraordinary advance by other scientists three decades later: the drug Gleevec. For many patients, Gleevec transformed chronic myeloid leukemia from a fatal disease to a chronic one that can be kept under control for many years.”

In 2007, Nowell reflected on his work in a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, “Discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome: A personal perspective.” Nowell’s son, Michael, told Philly.com writer Cook, “He lived long enough to see it developed into treatment to allow individuals to lead longer lives.”

Nowell was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Wesleyan in 1968. Among the many other honors and awards Nowell received were the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, the 1998 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award (often called “the American Nobel Prize”), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science. He served on Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees for 15 years and was elected trustee emeritus of the university.

Christopher ’54 Remembered for Playing Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

Actor William Christopher ’54, best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy in the popular television comedy/drama series M*A*S*H, died Dec. 31, 2016, at his home in Pasadena, Calif. Christopher’s Mulcahy was a gentle Roman Catholic chaplain assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War on the CBS series, which aired from 1972 through 1983.

A theater major at Wesleyan, Christopher began his acting career in New York, playing in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked in television and appeared in a number of popular shows.

In a New York Times article, writer Liam Stack quotes Loretta Swit—M*A*S*H nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan—who called Christopher “‘TV’s quintessential padre… It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church.’”

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.


Klarren Remembered for Introducing Students to Religious Thinkers

Eugene Klaaren

Eugene Klaaren

Eugene Klaaren, associate professor of religion, emeritus, died Oct. 18 at the age of 78. Klaaren taught at Wesleyan from 1968 until he retired in 2006.

Klaaren’s courses introduced students to central Christian thinkers in the history of theology and philosophy, from Martin Luther to Soren Kierkegaard, John Calvin to David Hume and Jonathan Edwards, and Friedrich Schleiermacher to Friedrich Nietzsche.

Bernstein ’15 Remembered for His “Large Personality,” Athleticism

Rex Bernstein ’15

Rex Bernstein ’15

Rex Bernstein ’15 died peacefully in his sleep Jan. 10 while visiting family in the San Francisco Bay area. He was pursuing a government major at Wesleyan with a minor in history. He was a former member of the Wesleyan swim team and a member of Beta Theta Pi.

Bernstein, 22, was “a large person with a large personality, and he will be missed by many here on campus,” wrote Dean Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

Bernstein is survived by his parents and younger sister, Olive, and his dog, Gato. View Bernstein’s guestbook online here.

A memorial service is being planned by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.