ANNE LEGENDRE ARMSTRONG
I first met Anne Armstrong in 1971 when I was a television news reporter in Houston, and I had the opportunity to interview her just after she had been elected cochair of the Republican National Committee. As a young woman with budding aspirations of my own, I was tremendously impressed with her. I was surprised and delighted when, one week after the interview, she called and asked if I would like to move to Washington, D.C., to be her press secretary at the RNC. I thought about it for a couple of weeks and decided to do it. I learned more in the first six months I worked for her than I could have learned getting an MBA!
Anne readily offered me her guidance and I looked up to her as a mentor and a friend. Throughout my career, I sought her advice when facing major decisions. Indeed, over such a distinguished career in public service she amassed experience, expertise, and wisdom that drew presidents to her for counsel.
Anne started in public service by campaigning door-to-door for Eisenhower, and her hard work and dedication eventually carried her to the center of national politics as the cochair of the Republican National Committee – she was the first woman, Republican or Democrat, to lead a national party. Under her leadership, she worked to make the Republican Party more welcoming to younger voters, ethnic minorities, and women. In 1972, she was the first female keynote speaker at a Republican National Convention. Anne broke yet another glass ceiling when President Gerald Ford appointed her to be the first woman ambassador to the Court of St. James, our country’s most coveted diplomatic post. She was immensely popular in Great Britain throughout her term as U.S. Ambassador.
Her characteristic intelligence and warmth made her a trusted advisor to Presidents Nixon and Ford. They were wise enough to entrust Anne, who was the first woman advisor of cabinet rank, with duties that extended beyond what were then considered to be traditional women’s responsibilities. President Reagan appointed her to be Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and President George H.W. Bush sought her advice on matters of foreign intelligence at the height of the Cold War. In multiple administrations, she took on foreign policy, intelligence, and economics with effectiveness and skill, and she helped pave the way for women who serve at the highest levels of government today.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor.
Anne served her country because she loved it – but she always knew that Texas was her home. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College when she met her future husband , and she was swept off her feet instantly. She and Tobin Armstrong, her beloved partner of 55 years, were happiest on their remote 50,000 acre ranch in South Texas. There, they raised their five children and watched their legacy grow to include 13 grandchildren.
I had the opportunity to interview Anne again a few years ago as I was writing my book, American Heroines. It would be impossible to write a book about the women who shaped our country without highlighting her achievements and acknowledging the indelible mark she made on my career. During our conversation, she told me about the barriers she had faced as a woman, the support she received from her precious family, the importance of a strong education, and her famous negotiating style, which I described as knowing when to fight and when to switch.
I also asked her to give me her very best advice. Anne said,
“My mother and father would say, ‘Tell the truth and go for the stars,’ and what I admire most about Texas A&M in having served as a regent there is its insistence on values: ‘Aggies do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.’ They follow the Golden Rule, they work hard, they value close families, and they love their country. That’s it.”
It’s clear that Anne followed her own advice – and in doing so she left such an inspiring example for the rest of us. Anne Armstrong led an extraordinary life and left a remarkable legacy that will be cherished by generations of Texans. I count myself among the many friends who are so much better off for having known and loved her.
CHARLES M. BONJEAN
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Bonjean, 72, a beloved member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and retired Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at UT, died Feb. 20, 2008, in Florida of natural causes. He had moved from Austin to Florida in his last days to be near family.
Bonjean was a noted sociologist, scholar, philanthropist, educator and administrator whose career spanned more than 40 years with The University of Texas at Austin. He also was a talented pianist and jazz devotee who enjoyed playing music with friends.
Bonjean came to UT in 1963 as an assistant professor with the Department of Sociology and spent his entire career there. He was promoted to associate professor in 1966 and to professor in 1970. He was chair of the department from 1972 until 1974, when he was appointed Hogg Professor of Sociology, a position he held until he retired in 2002.
As a sociologist, Bonjean’s academic interests encompassed formal organizations, sociology of the community, evaluation research, and mental health. He was a prolific researcher, writer and editor whose name appeared as author, co-author or contributor to more than 65 books, articles, chapters and book reviews. Many of his articles appeared in such prominent journals as the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Urban Affairs Quarterly, Sex Roles, the Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, Sociological Quarterly, Work and Occupations, Journal of Politics, Contemporary Sociology, and Sociology of Education.
Bonjean first joined the American Sociological Association during his graduate student days at the University of North Carolina. He was elected to ASA Council in 1985-88. He served on or chaired two dozen different ASA committees, including the Committee on Nominations, the Executive Office and Budget Committee, the Minority Opportunity Summer Training (MOST) Program Committee, the Council Subcommittee on Relations with Sections, the Council Subcommittee on Program Reorganization, the Council Subcommittee on Sociological Practice, and the Minority Fellowship Committee. Bonjean served terms as chair of the Council Subcommittee on Women and Minorities, as chair of the Committee on Association Reorganization, and as chair of the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award Selection Committee.
Those who worked with Chuck on the MOST project know how central his humor and enthusiasm for all things Texas was to this work. He created a tradition of giving Task Force members highly personalized tee shirts, he encouraged endless jokes and bantering, and welcomed members on numerous occasions to his home and his boat on Lake Travis outside of Austin. There was nothing he liked better than club-crawling along Austin’s infamous 6th Street where he would introduce people to the diverse music of that fun-loving community. Chuck loved sociology, he loved working, he loved music, he loved Texas, and he loved his good times with friends.
Bonjean served as editor of a number of academic and professional journals and publications. He was the editor of Social Science Quarterly from 1966 to 1993. When he became the editor, the journal was but a small regional publication known then as the Southwestern Social Science Quarterly. In 1968, behind Bonjean’s leadership, the journal changed its name and soon became a nationally visible, highly regarded journal. It may have been one of the first social science journals to publish research dealing with Hispanics. As an editor, Chuck was known for his detailed reviews and the help he gave authors to improve their work. And he always promised to send three reviews within six weeks of the date the manuscript was submitted to SSQ. More often than not, he was able to fulfill this promise. He nurtured many young sociologists in his role as editor, colleague, and friend. Along with the journal, Chuck served in many positions of the Southwestern Social Science Association and was its President in 1994-1995. He helped establish the present excellent reputation of the SSSA.
In the early 1970s the UT sociology department was not as large as it is today. Like many university departments at that time, the department had an abundance of assistant professors. Bonjean had just been promoted to full professor in 1970 so was one of the role models in the department for the younger assistant professors. He was always accessible on campus, and also was known for the exciting parties he would throw at his home overlooking Lake Travis.
In addition to his role as an educator, Bonjean joined the Hogg Foundation in 1974 as executive associate and was promoted to vice president in 1979. He served as the foundation’s executive director from 1993 until 2002, and was only the third person to hold that position since the foundation’s inception in 1940.
Chuck loved to travel and was on the road more than 100 nights each year in connection with his Hogg Foundation and other responsibilities. He traveled the world in his free time and was one of only a handful of “two-million milers” with Delta Airlines.
Bonjean served on boards and committees of numerous national, state and local philanthropic and professional organizations, including the Council on Foundations, Grantmakers in Health, the Center for Nonprofit Organization Management, Grantmakers Evaluation Network, American Sociological Foundation, Southwestern Social Science Association, Conference of Southwest Foundations, Mental Health Association of Texas, Texas Grantmakers in Health and Human Services, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Mental Health Association of Greater Houston, and the Greater Houston Collaborative for Children.
At the university, Bonjean served on the Faculty Senate, the University Council, the University Public Lectures Committee, the University Research Institute and the Publications Policies Committee. He also was a consultant and advisor to the university’s Department of Journalism, School of Nursing and School of Social Work.
His honorary affiliations included Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha and Sigma Delta Chi. He received numerous awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi Scholarship Award in 1957, The University of Texas Students’ Association Teaching Excellence Award in 1965, the Drake University Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1979, the Association of Junior Leagues’ Award for Voluntary Association Organizational Self-Assessment in 1983, and the Southwestern Social Science Association’s Outstanding Service Award twice, in 1984 and 1991.
Bonjean received a doctorate in sociology from the University of North Carolina, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Drake University.
If one thing stood out about Chuck above all else, it was his unique ability to make and remain friends with everyone he met. He will be missed by the many hundreds of friends he left behind in Texas, the U.S., and the world.
Norval D. Glenn, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, and E. Mark Warr
DR. MICHAEL E. DEBAKEY
1908 - 2008
Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, internationally recognized as the father of modern cardiovascular surgery, died at the Methodist Hospital, Houston on July 11, 2008. He was 99.
DeBakey was the eldest of five children born to Lebanese immigrants Raheehja and Shaker Morris DeBakey. His father was a businessman and pharmacist in Lake Charles who invested in real estate and rice farms. He grew up in comfortable circumstances with his brother and three sisters eating healthy foods – fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, seafood, rice and beans. They did not smoke or drink. On Sundays after church services, the DeBakeys sometimes took clothing to a nearby orphanage. One time the giveaway bundle included DeBakey’s favorite cap. When he protested, his mother said: “You have lots of caps, these children have none.” DeBakey later said “It made a great impression on me.”
His mother also taught him one of his future career’s essential skills – sewing. Years later, in the 1950’s, DeBakey sewed a prototype artificial artery on his wife’s sewing machine using fabric purchased at Houston’s downtown Foley’s. He later found that nylon lasted only one year but Dacron lasted for several decades.
He went to medical school at Tulane after graduating as valedictorian of his high school class. While a surgery resident at a New Orleans charity hospital, DeBakey first saw a living human heart – pink and pulsating in the chest of a knifing victim. “I saw it beating and it was a beautiful work of art,” DeBakey said in a 1987 interview. “I still have an almost religious sense when I work on the heart. It is something God makes and we have yet to duplicate.”
In the late 1930’s, DeBakey married his first wife, Diana, a nurse he met in New Orleans. They had four sons: Michael, Ernest, Barry and Denis. When DeBakey came to Houston in 1948 to head the surgery department at Baylor College of Medicine, he moved his family into a home near Rice University, only five minutes from the medical center so he would not waste time commuting. He never moved from that home.
Diana died in 1972 of a heart attack. After a medical meeting in Mexico, she had complained of an upset stomach and had been admitted to the hospital to find out what was wrong. While DeBakey was in surgery on someone else, he got a call that there was an emergency. When he reached her bedside, she had died.
Three years after Diana’s death DeBakey married German film actress, Katrin Fehlhaber, whom he met through Frank Sinatra. They have a daughter, Olga.
“Many consider Michael E. DeBakey to be the greatest surgeon ever,” the Journal of the American Medical Association said in 2005. By the time Dr. DeBakey stopped a regular surgical schedule, when he was in his 80’s, he had performed more than 60,000 operations. He also made Houston a major center for heart surgery and research and turned Baylor into one of the nation’s great medical institutions. Dr. DeBakey’s surgical innovations have become common practice today and have saved tens of thousands of lives. He and his team were the first to transplant four organs (a heart, two kidneys and a lung) from one donor to different recipients.
He was one of the organizers of what became the mobile army surgical hospital, or MASH unit, in the Korean War. The Army awarded him the Legion of Merit award for changing the strategy of treating the wounded.
Among his notable patients were Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, the Duke of Windsor, the Shah of Iran and King Hussein of Jordan. He had a long and distinguished career as a medical pioneer and a public policy statesman. His many awards and recognitions include the Lasker Award for Clinical Research, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science. Just three months before his death, he received one of the nation’s highest civic honors, the Congressional Gold Medal.
He was preceded in death by his sons Ernest O. DeBakey and Barry E. DeBakey; and his brother, Dr. Ernest G. DeBakey. In addition to his wife, Katrin, and their daughter, Olga, DeBakey is survived by sons Michael DeBakey of Lima, Peru, and Denis DeBakey of Houston; and two sisters Lois and Selma DeBakey, both medical editors and linguists at Baylor.
He was the first and, thus far, the only person to lie in state at the Houston City Hall.
RALPH DAVID FEIGIN
1938 – 2008
A native of New York City, Ralph David Feigin received his A.B .degree from Columbia University in 1958. He received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1962 .His internship was at Boston City Hospital from1962 to 1963. He was a resident there until 1964 when in 1965 he completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.
From 1965 to 1967 he completed a research assignment with the United States Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick MD. In 1967 he was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. From 1967 to 1968 he served as Chief Resident of the Children’s Service at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 1968 he joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO as an instructor in pediatrics. In 1969 he was promoted to be Assistant Professor of pediatrics, to be Associate Professor in 1972 and to Professor in 1974. He served as director of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics from 1973 to 1977 and as director of the Bacteriology and Serology Laboratories at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital from 1972 to 1977.
In July of 1977 he was appointed as the J. S. Abercrombie Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of Texas Children’s Hospital.
From 1987 to 1989 he served as Executive Vice President (interim executive director) of Texas Children’s Hospital. He served as Physician-in Chief, Pediatric Services at Ben Taub Hospital and Chief of Pediatric Service at the Methodist Hospital.
In 1990 he was named, by the Board of Trustees of Baylor College of Medicine, as a Distinguished Service Professor. In 1992 he was appointed Senior Vice President of Baylor College of Medicine and in 1994 he was appointed Dean of Medical Education for Baylor College of Medicine. He held these positions until his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of Baylor College of Medicine in January of 1996. He served in this office until March of 2003.
He was a member of and active in numerous pediatric and infectious disease organizations at national, state and local levels. He was a visiting professor at several medical schools. He co-authored a number of books. The most noted is Feigin and Cherry’s Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases which has several re-printings.
He was known for his intelligence, his extraordinary memory, his talent and his tenacious pursuit of excellence. His visionary leadership raised Texas Children’s Hospital to the highest ranks of children’s hospitals.
The Texas Children’s Hospital research building has been named in his honor and memory. Ralph David Feigin, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer August 14, 2008. He leaves his wife Judith, three children and six grandchildren.
PHILIP GUTHRIE HOFFMAN
1915 – 2008
The University of Houston (UH) lost a transformative figure when Dr. Philip G. Hoffman died in October 2008 at the age of 93. Hoffman's efforts as the fifth president of the university and first chancellor of the University of Houston System were the driving force behind the institution's growth. His achievements were critical to the rise of UH from what was for a time (1945-1963) a private institution facing deep financial troubles to a prominent, state-supported research university.
Born in Kobe, Japan, to missionary parents, Hoffman was raised in Oregon from the age of 5. He earned a bachelor of arts in business administration from Pacific Union College in Oregon and master's in history from the University of Southern California, and then served as a Naval intelligence officer during World War II before earning his doctorate in history at Ohio State in 1948. He subsequently taught at Ohio State and the University of Alabama before returning to Oregon as dean of the general extension division for the Oregon State System of Higher Education.
Hoffman and his wife Mary, a niece of President Warren G. Harding, came to Houston in 1957 when he joined UH as vice president and dean of faculties. He succeeded Clanton W. Williams as president in 1961.
Soon thereafter, Hoffman managed one of the most important issues of the day for the university, the integration of his campus, with particular grace. He said later it was one of his proudest moments at the university, as it was accomplished without great strife and controversy.
Hoffman led the effort to affiliate UH with the State of Texas and won legislative approval in 1961. Under his leadership through 1977, the university's enrollment more than doubled, from a little over 12,000 to nearly 30,000. His fund-raising savvy raised millions for UH and fostered rapid growth of the university's physical facilities. During Hoffman's tenure, UH built, remodeled or expanded 31 structures, one of which now carries his name.
After stepping down as president, Hoffman remained as first chancellor of the University of Houston System that he helped establish. The system includes four universities as well as off-campus and distance-learning sites.
Hoffman retired as chancellor in 1979, but retirement didn't suit him for long. Hoffman became president of the Texas Medical Center in 1981, serving until 1984.
As a Houstonian for 51 years, he served on the boards of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Society for the Performing Arts, the Houston Symphony Society, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He held many honorary degrees and represented President Lyndon Johnson at the opening of the 1964 U.S. Trade Exposition in Algiers, Algeria.
Hoffman laid the groundwork for the enormous strides that UH continues to make. Renu Khator, today’s dynamic chancellor of the University of Houston, described Hoffman as a person of “extraordinary generosity and vision, and a source of inspiration” for her and the university today. Hoffman’s commitment to excellence and opportunity left a mark not only on the University of Houston, but much more broadly on the city.
RUTH LEVY KEMPNER
1917 – 2008
(From the eulogy delivered on June 19, 2008 at the service for Ruth Levy Kempner.)
I have been privileged to know several folk in my life who were truly outstanding characters. One was my own mother. I can best describe her as the type who would tell the cow how to eat the cabbage. Ruth Levy Kempner was just such a lady, as well. She had no hesitancy in telling others just what she thought. And as a result, we were all truly blessed. And, intriguingly, my mother's name was Ruthe and today is her birthday.
On this road of life we travel, there are passengers, there are drivers and there are guides. Ruth was a consummate example of the latter and for many of us, she was OUR guide. Today we gather to honor her memory and to share in our mutual loss with her family.
Lest there is anyone in this room who would think Ruth Kempner was reticent to give directions, and that I have misspoken, let me quickly relieve them of that perception. Permit please a few personal recollections. Not only did this dear lady tell me how she wanted her mother's funeral years ago, that is until Harris induced her silence, but she also gave me clear instructions about some of today's events. And if you think I am going to deviate one hairsbreadth, you are quite wrong.
Fortunately all of my conversations with Ruth were not regarding funerals. We discussed the pros and cons of a summer at the Bod—that is the Bodleian Library at Oxford; the problems of raising children in Galveston; the qualities of a good Rabbi for B'nai Israel; and a host of other topics as varied as I could ever imagine. Clearly there never was a hesitation nor a taboo area. Ruth had an insatiable eclectic interest in everything that was ever fed by her voracious appetite for reading.
Perhaps the most telling of our conversations is the one that reveals a part of this beautiful soul that most of us all knew and which clearly benefited not only everyone she knew, but the entire community as well. While Mayor of the city, Barbara Crews, in what I presume was an off moment, appointed me to chair the City Ethics Committee. No sooner had it hit the newspaper pages than I got a call from Ruth expecting to see me pronto.
Presenting myself at the appointed time, Ruth began a pointed reminder of my obligations to Galveston and to those folk who worked hard to establish an accountable city government. I remember the clear warning, "don't do any harm to my charter." Clearly she knew the needs of our Island and the far piece we had come since the old commissioner days. She wanted to be sure our committee did not take any steps backward. We didn't, but the Council did.
It seemed clear to me that Ruth was always mindful of where she lived and the privileges life gave her. She took them seriously and knew that with them came responsibilities and obligations. I think she also knew that in carrying out those responsibilities she was able to bestow blessings upon others.
I also learned over the years in our conversations about the human, soft side of this lady. Her veneer served her well, but her ability to feel, to touch, to cry, were not only present but were, I believe, her measure of herself. We should never think the cover was the book, even when writ large.
Ruth experienced during her life the loves and losses that all of us will share. Yet in many ways hers were more public because of the role she played in Galveston. As a result, her experiences were just a bit more first hand. Most particularly was her loss of Sandy. In the face of his death, she came back to bless us all with among other things an even greater commitment to our library. Truly a lady of dignity and presence.
In the face of all that came her way, she was truly blessed with loving family and friends; most especially her devoted son and daughter, and their children. Shrub, you and Peaches and your kids know how important you were in your mom's life, especially after Harris' death. Permit me to remind you to always call upon the wonderful times you were privileged to share with her. They are truly the choicest of her legacy vouched safe to you. It's clear to all of us that you all were the reason for her living into her ninth decade.
With Ruth Levy Kempner's passing we lose another from a great generation that helped shaped our community. The loss of the special lady leaves our world a darker than before. The solace is that we are much better off for her involvement and for her life.
From the book of Proverbs, Scripture speaks directly to us about this dear soul: Her ways were ways of pleasantness, and all her paths sought peace. 18 She was as a tree of life to those who embraced her; and by her were we blessed.
May we continue to live our lives so as to merit the blessing her life was for us.
Kain y'hi ratsone - so may it be God's will.
ROY M. MERSKY
1925 – 2008
Professor Roy M. Mersky, Director of the Tarlton Law Library and Jamail Center for Legal research at The University of Texas School of Law, died May 6, 2008.
Professor Mersky was born in New York City on September 1, 1925 and attended public school in the Bronx. During Work War II, while a member of the 87th Infantry Division in General Patton’s 3rd Army, he fought during the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the bronze star, a purple heart, and numerous campaign ribbons along with the combat infantry badge.
Following the war, Professor Mersky attended the University of Wisconsin where he received a Bachelor of Science degree, a law degree, and a Masters of Applied Library Science.
Roy Mersky became a Professor of Law at The University of Texas in 1965 and became Directory of the Tarlton Law Library. He is noted for the number of law library directors who were trained under his tutelage. He was the author and contributor to scores of books and articles and was nationally recognized as an expert in legal research, the history of the United States Supreme Court, law and language, law and popular culture, and rare law books. He was a frequent speaker in this country and abroad and once served as Interim Director of the Jewish National and University Library of Hebrew University. In 2005 he was awarded the Gallagher Distinguished Service Award by the American Association of Law Libraries, among other honors.
In addition to being a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, he was also a member of the American Law Institute and the American Society for International Law.
CHARLES P. STOREY
1923 - 2008
Charles P. Storey, known to his countless friends as Chuck, died on July 21, 2008, after living a life full of grace and good fortune. He had a lanky, athletic frame that served him well, from his days as an all-city basketball player at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas until the moment he was struck down by a heart attack on a cruise off the coast of Canada at the age of 85.
Chuck made life look easy. He was blessed with a sunny nature and an open-handed spirit that made him welcome everywhere he went. He was steady and modest, but his ceaseless support of civic and charitable causes, especially the YMCA and the Dallas Council of World Affairs, for which he was a founding director, helped build the community that he made his home.
As a lawyer, he practiced most of his career at Storey, Armstrong, Steger and Martin, which his father, Robert G. Storey Sr., had organized. Chuck lived somewhat in the shadow of his father's mighty reputation – Colonel Storey had been head of the U.S. prosecution team in the Nuremberg Trials and president of the Southern Methodist University Law School – but Chuck rose to become a senior partner in that firm, along the way becoming president of the Dallas Bar Association, a director of the State Bar Association, and chairman of the Southwest Legal Foundation (now the Center for American and International Law). Chuck was particularly known for taking on pro bono cases for less fortunate clients. Later in his career, he formed another firm, Storey and Martin, and then became senior counsel to Carrington Coleman Sloman & Blumenthal.
Chuck had much to be thankful for, but chief among them was his family, including his wife, Helen; his three sons, Harry Stephens Storey, Dr. Charles Porter Storey, Jr., and Dr. Fred Storey; along with eight grandchildren.
Like the athlete he had once been, Chuck Storey left an impression on those who watched him navigate through life. He was a natural.
JOHN ARCHIBALD WHEELER
1911 - 2008
John Archibald Wheeler was a distinguished scientist and a peerless mentor. He died at his home in Hightstown, New Jersey, on April 13, 2008, at age 96.
Wheeler was born in Jacksonville, Florida on July 9, 1911. Growing up, he liked tinkering and mathematics. He received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1933 where he used the then-new framework of quantum mechanics to study scattering and absorption of light by helium atoms. He took a postdoctoral year with Gregory Breit at New York University and then a second year with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. Upon his return to the United States, he married Janette Latourette Zabriskie Heger, with whom he remained married for 72 years, and spent three years on the faculty at the University of North Carolina. In 1938, he moved to Princeton University where he worked much of the rest of his life, with the exception of a decade-long sojurn at the University of Texas at Austin. At Princeton he was the Joseph Henry Professor and later Joseph Henry Professor Emeritus.
Nuclear physics dominated Wheeler's early career. He invented the notion of the scattering S-matrix in 1937. He was one of the first people in the world to hear about nuclear fission during a visit by Niels Bohr to Princeton in 1939. He co-authored with Bohr a pioneering paper on the liquid-drop model of the nucleus in 1939 that provided a theoretical understanding of fission. Wheeler worked on the Manhattan Project during WW II, in particular on the design and operation of the reactors in Hanford Washington that produced plutonium. After the war, he was instrumental in starting a cosmic ray laboratory at Princeton and in work on the hydrogen bomb under the auspices of Project Matterhorn at Princeton. In the wake of the launch of Sputnik in 1957, he advocated the consultation of scientists on important defense issues, first in what he termed Project 137 (named for the inverse of the fine structure constant) and then in what evolved into Jason, an institution that still operates today.
In 1952, Wheeler's work underwent a major change in direction. Giving up work on particles and nuclear physics, he turned his attention to what was then a backwater, the notions of curved space and time of Einstein's general relativity. Wheeler's attention revitalized the field, both theoretically and as an experimental science and brought on the golden age of relativity, during which Princeton and Texas were two of the major recognized centers.
In the latter portion of his career, Wheeler returned to basic issues of the quantum nature of existence, and of existence itself. While this portion of his work was not as concretely productive as some of his earlier work, his ability to state fundamental conundrums succinctly stimulated a great deal of thinking and commentary on the most profound problems facing physics.
Upon retiring from Princeton in 1976, Wheeler moved to the University of Texas at Austin to become the Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics and in 1979 the Ashbel Smith Professor of Physics. This represented a time when Wheeler shifted his attention from the fields of general relativity to issues of information and the quantum. It was during this time that his “delayed choice” experiment on the collapse of the quantum wave function was performed by colleagues at Texas A&M University. From this era also came seeds of the understanding of quantum demolition, the transition from quantum to classical behavior in ever-larger systems. Wheeler returned to Princeton in 1986.
Throughout his career, Wheeler regarded teaching and mentoring younger people as a critical aspect of his life. He left a cadre of famous students. With Richard Feynman, he developed key ideas concerning positrons and electrodynamics. With Kip Thorne, he brought new life to studies of neutron stars and black holes. The famous text book Gravitation by Charles Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler has been a classic since its publication in 1973. Other general relativists who studied with Wheeler at Princeton include Jacob Bekenstein and William Unruh.
While he was Wheeler’s student at Princeton, Hugh Everett formulated the “many histories” approach to the interpretation of measurements in quantum mechanics, which has become increasingly influential. Among the graduate students supervised by Wheeler at Texas were Wojciech Zurek, a pioneer in the development of the idea of decoherence in quantum mechanics, and William Wooters, who has made important contributions to quantum information theory.
In addition to his deep understanding of physics and concern for guiding students, Wheeler had a remarkable talent for wordsmithing. Although he did not invent the phrase, he was responsible for promoting the term “black hole,” which both stimulated research and has become an iconic phrase in modern culture. He also famously invented the phrase “worm hole,” which has also long since been assimilated into popular thought. Less well known, but still powerfully influential were the phrases “Planck length”, “time and mass”, and “quantum foam;” notions that remain central to the quest for rigorous theory of quantum gravity. He summarized general relativity with the phrase “matter tells space how to curve and curved space tells matter how to move.” He captured the profoundly simple essence of black holes with the phrase “a black hole has no hair.” He defined the fundamental issues involved in existence in terms of information, “it from bit.” And he commented that “topology is too important to be left to the mathematicians.”
Wheeler had three children: Letitia Wheeler Ufford of Princeton; James English Wheeler of Ardmore, Pa.; and Alison Wheeler Lahnston of Princeton. Janette pre-deceased him by a few months. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Wheeler published 10 books as well as a voluminous record of research papers. He received many awards, among which were the Cressey-Morrison Prize of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1946, the Enrico Fermi Award of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Agency, 1968, the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, 1969, the National Medal of Science, 1971, the Niels Bohr International Gold Medal, 1982, the Oersted Medal, 1983, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, 1984 and the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1997, often considered the most prestigious international prize in physics after the Nobel Prize.
In 1998 Wheeler co-wrote with Kenneth Ford a remarkable autobiography Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics. A special memorial issue of Physics Today was devoted to Wheeler in April 2009.
Austin M. Gleeson
J. Craig Wheeler
JOSEPH. IRION WORSHAM
1913 – 2008
Joseph Irion Worsham was involved in civic, charitable, and religious affairs in Dallas for nearly 70 years. Following in his father’s footsteps, he built on a heritage as old as Texas. He went by his middle name, Irion, in honor of his great-grandfather, R. A. Irion, Sam Houston’s secretary of state in 1836, who was also one of the founders of the Philosophical Society of Texas in 1837.
Born in Dallas on March 20, 1913 to Joe A. and Annabel Irion Worsham, he graduated from the Terrill Preparatory School for Boys in 1928, The University of Texas in 1933 (Summa cum Laude), and Harvard Law School in 1936 (Cum Laude).
In 1937, he followed his father into the practice of law, first with the firm Worsham, Burford, Ryburn, and Hincks, and thereafter different successor firms that eventually became Worsham, Forsythe, and Wooldridge, L.L.P., which later merged with Hunton and Williams of Richmond, Virginia.
In 1952 he was appointed by the Texas Supreme Court as a member of the Board of Legal Examiners and served in that capacity until 1968. He was a member of the American, Texas, and Dallas Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society, and (formerly) the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Texas, the federal District Courts of Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
He was a lifelong and devoted member of the Episcopal Church, first with the Church of the Incarnation, and later with Trinity Episcopal Church, where he was a founding member, vestryman, and senior warden. Nationally, he served as a Deputy to the Episcopal General Convention on eight different occasions, and locally, was chancellor of the Diocese of Dallas for many years, as well as its parliamentarian, and received the Layman of the Year award in 1956.
In World War II, he served his country as Naval Intelligence officer, based in Galveston. His civic credits include service on the Town Council of Highland Park and the Highland Park Community League, St. Phillips Community Center, and Gaston Episcopal Hospital. A founder of St. Marks School of Texas, he was one of its original trustees. He was a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club, Dallas Country Club, and the Northwood Club, where he served as its fourth President in 1950.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Josephine Worsham Moore, and a great granddaughter, Elisabeth Anne Worsham. He is survived by a large and loving family, including his wife of seventy-one years, Harriet Lang Worsham; his daughter Alice Worsham Bass and her husband, Richard D. Bass; his son, Joseph A.I. Worsham and his wife Donna S. Worsham; and his daughter, Raguet Worsham Hall and her husband, Thos. R. Hall. Also surviving are ten grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.