Erwin Chargaff, Ph.D.

Dr. Erwin Chargaff, professor emeritus and special lecturer in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, died June 20, 2002, at age 96. His research into the chemical composition of DNA was important to our understanding of DNA. He joined the faculty in 1935 and was named professor of biochemistry in 1952. He became professor emeritus in 1974.

By discovering regularities among the four chemical units, or bases, of DNA, Dr. Chargaff was key to the identification of DNA’s role as the hereditary material of living organisms. His work paved the way for the James Watson-Francis Crick discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure. “Chargaff’s rules” is the name given to the DNA base ratios he discovered.

Dr. Chargaff was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of numerous awards, including the 1974 National Medal of Science.

George Perera, M.D.

Dr. George Perera, professor of medicine and associate dean for many years, died Sept. 14, 2002, at age 90. He earned two degrees from P&S, his M.D. degree in 1937 and his Med.Sc.D. degree in 1942. He was on the faculty from 1947 until his retirement in 1971.

After retiring, he served as an alumni trustee of Columbia University from 1974 through 1980. Dr. Perera was a fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As an advocate for world peace, Dr. Perera traveled internationally on missions for the American Friends Service Committee, and he was a trustee of the Bridges of Understanding Foundation. (See the In Memoriam section’s alumni listings—Class of 1937—for more information.)

Other Faculty Deaths
Dr. Giuseppe Andres, professor of clinical pathology and former faculty member in the Department of Microbiology, died July 28, 2002.


Class of 1923
NORMAN F. LASKEY died June 3, 2002, at age 102. A retired surgeon and urologist, Dr. Laskey was associated for much of his career with Mount Sinai Medical Center, which awarded him a certificate of honor in 1991 in recognition of his many years of care and service. He formally retired from the practice of surgery in 1991, at age 92. A loyal and dedicated alumnus, Dr. Laskey served as class chairman for the P&S Alumni Fund. Survivors include two daughters and a son.

Class of 1929
Retired general surgeon JAMES D. BILES JR. died June 1, 2002, at age 97. A former member of the surgical faculty at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Biles left surgery to pursue a second career in the Public Health Service. Following an internship at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, he did his postgraduate training in surgery at the University of Vienna in Austria. In 1997 he received a certificate for 50 years of service to Memphis and Shelby County in Tennessee. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; he is survived by two daughters, two sons, and three grandchildren.

Class of 1931
JOSEPH ROTHENBERG, a retired internist from Ithaca, N.Y., died Feb. 27, 2002, at age 94. Former chief of medicine at Mount Vernon Hospital in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and a private practitioner for many years in Mount Vernon and Dryden, N.Y., he retired from practice at age 84, continuing to attend medical meetings until age 91. Dr. Rothenberg served in the U.S. Army in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany during World War II. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Esther Aronson, two daughters, and a son.

Class of 1935
Retired pathologist MARGARET BEVANS died Aug. 3, 2002, at age 91, following surgery for a localized carcinoma of the colon. A former associate professor of pathology at P&S, Dr. Bevans served as a research fellow with the Public Health Research Institute and director of laboratories at Midtown Hospital, the New York Infirmary, and Beekman Downtown Hospital. She was the co-author of numerous studies on the effects of medication on arteriosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. No immediate family survives.

C. GEORGE POORE died May 5, 2002. A retired urologist, he pursued a private practice, was affiliated with the Euclid Clinic in Euclid, Ohio, and served as chief of staff at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport. During World War II, Dr. Poore served with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, stationed in the European theater. Preceded in death by his second wife, Jean, he leaves behind three daughters, two stepsons, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Class of 1936
RALPH E. ALEXANDER, a retired radiologist from Rochester, N.Y., died Aug. 5, 2002. A former member of the radiology faculty at the University of Rochester, Dr. Alexander was affiliated with Ira Davenport Hospital and Myers Community Hospital in Bath, N.Y. An archeologist by avocation, he was a past president of the Rochester Chapter of the American Institute of Archeology and spent many a summer vacation in the Argolis, in Greece, doing ancient bone identification. This research led to lectures and published papers on xeroradiography of ancient objects. Also an avid photographer, he exhibited at various salons. A loyal alumnus, Dr. Alexander gave generously to P&S for research in hypertension and oncology, among other areas. Preceded in death by his first wife, June, he is survived by his second wife, Muriel.

Class of 1937
GEORGE A. PERERA, who also received an Med.Sc.D. degree from P&S in 1942, died Sept. 14, 2002, at the age of 90. He was a revered and beloved former professor of medicine and associate dean of P&S and was admired for his scientific knowledge, administrative acumen, and great humanity. “Born in New York City,” he once wrote, “I was a sensitive loner and late to mature. Add math, science, music, travel, and human concerns, a medical career was a natural.” That career blossomed at P&S, where he rose to the rank of professor in 1958. A pioneer in the study of the natural history and epidemiology of primary hypertension and author of more than 100 scientific papers, Dr. Perera founded the Nephritis-Hypertension Clinic at CPMC, the first of its kind as an entity devoted to the study and treatment of hypertension. He proved conclusively that while hypertension starts insidiously, it is, in fact, a slow and silent killer. Dr. Perera pursued a parallel career in administration, holding the post of associate dean for close to a decade. In that capacity, he wrestled the Herculean responsibilities of admissions, curriculum, financial aid, student affairs, and career counseling. Many alumni recall his wise and kindly counsel. He also found time to chair the Section on Medicine of the New York Academy of Medicine and in his extra-medical life participated as an active member of the American Friends Service Committee in numerous medical and humanitarian missions to trouble spots overseas, including a mission to transport children’s medical and surgical equipment to a hospital in Hanoi in North Vietnam in 1972. The Alumni Association honored him in 1971 with a citation for outstanding service and Columbia University awarded him its alumni medal in 1980. In 1997, he presided as honorary P&S alumni day chairman of the scientific session during alumni reunion weekend. Preceded in death by his wife, Anna, he is survived by a daughter, a son, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Class of 1938
Word has been received of the death of retired internist EDWINA CAMPBELL SANGER, date unknown. Dr. Sanger, whose primary medical interest was tuberculosis, was preceded in death by her husband, the late Dr. Grant Sanger, a former associate professor of surgery at P&S, and by two sons. She had been a board member, staff member, and ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood of New York City, the organization founded by her late mother-in-law, Margaret Sanger. Dr. Sanger is survived by a daughter, three sons, and 11 grandchildren.

Retired urologist RALPH WHIPPLE died June 8, 2002. Following many years in private urology practice, during which he once wrote proudly of his “post-op death record—zero,” Dr. Whipple also served as chief of urology at Manhasset Medical Center in Manhasset, N.Y., and later as deputy medical examiner in Connecticut, performing more than 1,000 autopsies. He is survived by three daughters, two sons, and four grandchildren.

Class of 1939
LOUIS R. MURPHY died June 19, 2002. Former director of cardiology, director of medicine, director of medical affairs, and member of the board at Mercy Hospital in Scranton, Pa., he also taught residents at Temple University. During World War II, Dr. Murphy served in the medical detail of the 82nd Airborne Division and saw action in Italy, Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded a Bronze Star for heroic action at Normandy. Revered by patients and colleagues, Dr. Murphy received, among other professional accolades, the Catherine McAuley Mercy Spirit Award and the Presidential Achievement Award of the Lackawanna Medical Society for a lifetime of commitment to medical excellence. He is survived by his wife, Muriel, a daughter, three sons, and eight grandchildren.

Class of 1941
The Alumni Office has learned of the death in 1996 of STUART J. EISENBERG, professor emeritus of radiology at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, where he practiced and taught radiology for close to half a century. Among other honors, Dr. Eisenberg received Virginia Commonwealth’s dean’s award for distinguished service, the “Golden Apple” award as outstanding professor, and the Klaus Ranniger Award for teaching excellence. He served in North Africa during World War II. His wife, Sylvia, preceded him in death. Survivors include a daughter and a son.

Class of 1943 (March)
JANE M. HATHEWAY died Feb. 8, 2002. A retired psychiatrist and former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Dr. Hatheway served as an attending at Hackensack Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. Preceded in death by her husband, Daniel Donavan, she is survived by three sons and two grandsons.

Class of 1943 (December)
MAXWELL KOLODNY died May 3, 2001. A retired internist specializing in the treatment of diabetes, Dr. Kolodny was affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital, where he trained. Survivors include a daughter and two sons.

Class of 1944
Retired orthopedic surgeon EDWARD F. CADMAN has died, date unknown. A former chief of orthopedic surgery at the Wenatchee Valley Clinic in Wenatchee, Wash., visiting senior consultant at the University of Washington, and consultant at Larson Air Force Base, he had been affiliated with Central Deaconess Hospital in Wenatchee. A loyal alumnus, Dr. Cadman served as alumni regional representative from the state of Washington. In his extra-medical activities, Dr. Cadman was a former president of Rotary International. A lifelong Rotarian, he traveled to Malawi, Africa, as a member of a volunteer team to train local orthopedic residents and treat people disabled by polio and other diseases. Dr. Cadman is survived by his wife, Mary Jean, a daughter, and three sons.

Class of 1945
HOWARD W. HALFMAN died April 21, 2002, at age 80. A retired orthopedic surgeon in private practice for more than 35 years, he maintained affiliations with Plymouth Hospital, the state hospital in Concord, and other institutions in New Hampshire. A past president of the staff at Lakes Region General Hospital, he also served as president of the Belknap County Medical Society and represented New Hampshire at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery. Having lost his wife, Eunice, in 1988, he is survived by three daughters, a son, and one grandson.

Retired orthopedic surgeon JOHN P. WARTER died July 30, 2002. He had been chief of orthopedics at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. Survivors include a daughter and three sons.

Class of 1947
The Alumni Office received belated word of the death of retired child psychiatrist WILLIAM H. COX on Sept. 19, 1996. Former assistant professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he had served as chief of child psychiatry at St. Vincent’s Hospital and director of child psychiatry at Lincoln Hospital. He had no survivors.

Class of 1953
Retired psychiatrist VERA V. FRENCH died Feb. 11, 2002. The cause of death was a combination of injuries from a traffic accident and complications following multiple strokes. A former clinical professor of psychology at the University of Iowa and assistant professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, she was the retired director of the Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport, where she also maintained affiliations with St. Luke’s and Mercy hospitals. In 1981 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from St. Ambrose College in Davenport. Survivors include a daughter and two sons.

Class of 1954
WILLIAM ARMSTRONG VESSIE died Dec. 1, 2001. A former world-class athlete, holding international high jump records unbroken for 30 years, he suffered an accident in 1964 that left him a quadriplegic. He moved to Kalispell, Mont., where he pursued a private medical practice. He later accepted a position as prison doctor with the Montana Department of Institutions in Deer Lodge. Dr. Vessie is survived by his wife, Donna, three sons, four stepdaughters, and a stepson.

Class of 1957
CHARLES A. BUCKNAM, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, died April 24, 2002. A former associate clinical professor of surgery at John Dempsey Hospital/University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, he had been clinical director of the peripheral vascular laboratory at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn., where he spent three decades. Survivors include his wife, Ann, a daughter, three sons, and seven grandchildren.

Class of 1958
ROBERT W. SHERRY died July 29, 2002. A retired general and vascular surgeon in private practice, he had been affiliated with Mountainside and Montclair Community hospitals in Montclair, N.J., before moving to Colorado. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and four sons.

Class of 1960
DESMOND CALLAN, a retired family practitioner and social activist based in Hillsdale, N.Y., died July 22, 2002, at age 76. Assistant clinical professor in family and community medicine at Tufts Medical School at the time of his death, Dr. Callan helped found the Medical Committee for Human Rights and was actively involved in the creation of American community health centers. For a number of years, he divided his time between a rural private practice in Columbia County, N.Y., and a health clinic in Chinatown. In a life that combined medicine with social and political action, Dr. Callan was among a group of health professionals who traveled to the South during the early struggles of the civil rights movement in the 1960s to act as observers and volunteer care when needed by the community. From 1968 to 1970, he served as medical director of a community health center on New York’s Lower East Side, the first center established with federal funding. As a staff member of the Health Policy Advisory Center, a medical think tank, he also spoke out and wrote on pressing health-care issues. Dr. Callan was one of those rare physicians who still made house calls, notably to Medicare patients. “The house call has a social purpose,” he firmly believed, as it allows the physician “to see how the patient lives.” Defending his link between medicine and social action, he once explained: “To get good health care, you’ve got to make noise.” In 1963, he picketed the American Medical Association convention in Atlantic City, protesting the exclusion of black doctors from medical societies in the South. Though born into a family of comfortable means, he himself had known severe deprivation. Serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Dr. Callan saw active combat and was taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bulge and interned at a German POW camp, where he suffered considerable hardship. He is survived by his second wife, Georgene, a daughter, a son, a stepson, and two grandchildren.

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