July-August 2008 Issue • Volume 36 • Issue 6

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Obituaries

Deaths

Charles Moskos, Northwestern University, who helped developed the U.S. military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, passed away on May 31, 2008.

Obituaries

Wallis Beasley
1915-2008

Wallis Beasley was born in Red Bay, Alabama, on October 8, 1915, the youngest of seven children born to J. T. and Emma Shamblin Beasley. His father was at one time mayor of Red Bay. After graduating from Red Bay public schools, Beasley attended and received a B.A. degree from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He served briefly as a minister of the Church of Christ but soon realized that his future lay elsewhere. He turned to sociology and graduate school at Peabody University in Nashville, Tennessee. At Peabody he met T. H. Kennedy, another fugitive from the ministry (a common career pattern among sociologists of the day). After receiving his PhD from Peabody, Beasley began his teaching career at Pepperdine University; but Kennedy, who had been appointed Dean for Social Sciences at the State College of Washington (now Washington State University), soon brought him to Pullman.

Rising quickly through the ranks at WSU, Beasley spent the remainder of his career serving the university community and the state of Washington in many capacities. He served for many years as Chair of the WSU Department of Sociology and, when the department was authorized to grant the PhD in the late 1940s, Beasley and Kennedy drew upon their experience with traditionally black colleges in the South to open doors that racism had closed to aspiring black students. Through this informal network word spread quickly, and Washington State University soon established a national reputation for producing outstanding sociologists of color, many of whom have achieved national and international recognition. The late Hylan Lewis once remarked that he delighted in "telling the WSU story." Five WSU alumni have been honored by the American Sociological Association with the Dubois/Johnson/Frazier Award, and in 2004 the WSU Department of Sociology became the first department to receive the award.

Although not himself a researcher, Beasley was a fine teacher, and as an administrator he rewarded research productivity. In the fall of 1966, upon the retirement of the president of Washington State University, the Board of Regents appointed Beasley interim President, a post he served with distinction until the arrival of a new president, in July 1967.

As his retirement neared, the WSU Board of Regents approved naming the largest building on campus the Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum "in recognition of 33 years of distinguished leadership to the university community as a teacher, administrator and civic leader, 1949-1981." Beasley continued to serve the WSU community in retirement, first in Port Ludlow, Washington, and later in Coronado, California. At age 92, he returned to Pullman in March 2008, where he died of age-related causes. He is survived by his widow, who remains in Coronado, her daughters and their families, four nieces and six nephews, and by countless friends and associates whose lives he touched deeply. His proudest legacy was his role in recruiting and retaining graduate students of color, in their achievements, and his service as chair of the WSU Department of Sociology as it made the transition from a primarily teaching-oriented department to a strong research and teaching department.

At his adamant insistence, repeated countless times in recent years and days, no memorial service will be held. In the spring of 2002, Beasley spearheaded a WSU Foundation endowment campaign for the WSU Department of Sociology. A portion of that endowment in support of the research and teaching missions of the department was named for him. Memorial contributions, addressed either to the Department of Sociology or the Foundation, are welcome.

Jim Short, Washington State University

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Robert M. Figlio
1939-2008

Criminologist Robert M. Figlio died Saturday, March 15, 2008, at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital after a brief illness. He was 69.

During his academic career, first at the University of Pennsylvania and later at the University of California-Riverside, Figlio’s research included: juvenile delinquency, birth cohort studies, crime severity assessment, metropolitan crime patterns, crime forecasting, and loss prevention. While at the University of Pennsylvania, he was instrumental in the development of birth cohort analysis and co-authored landmark studies with Thorsten Sellin, Marvin E. Wolfgang, and Terence Thornberry. These innovative studies have become central in criminological research.

In 1988, after many years of teaching and research at universities, Figlio co-founded CAP Index, Inc., the Exton, PA, firm that pioneered the field of crime risk information and vulnerability analysis. He had a passion for improving safety in public venues and was very successful in his applications. His work applied academic criminology to the business world. He was unusually skilled at taking theory and translating it into real-world solutions. A highly regarded expert-witness in the realm of premises liability litigation, he lectured widely on his areas of expertise.

Bob earned his BA cum laude, in 1961 and PhD in 1971, both from the University of Pennsylvania. While he enjoyed a notable professional career, his life outside of his profession was extremely interesting and one wonders how he had the time to pursue all of his interests. He was a gifted musician who was an accomplished pianist and classical and theatre organist. He was a skilled pipe organ builder and an audio engineer who designed and built experimental sound systems. A skilled pilot, he often flew himself to meetings around the country. As a sailor, he sailed the blue water of the open ocean. There probably was not a machine he could not fix.

Bob had an unparalleled lust for life. He recognized and reveled in the humor of the human condition. Above all he was an extraordinary friend—to his colleagues, to the people he met pursuing his many interests, and to his family. He is fondly remembered by students and colleagues worldwide for his warmth, wit, and intellectual rigor.

He and his wife Jeanne raised their family in rural South Jersey. Together they grieved the death of their daughter Meagan who was killed in 1994. In addition to Jeanne, Dr. Figlio is survived by his son Nathan (and his wife Barbara) and daughter Sarah (and her husband Eric Vander Arend) as well as by his brothers Karl, Anthony, and Thomas and sister-in-law, Mimi Hook. He was a beloved grandfather to four grandchildren: Candice and Benjamin Figlio Genevieve and Julius Vander Arend.

Simply, Bob Figlio was a sensitive, kind, generous, brilliant individual who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Bob Silverman, Queen’s University, Canada; Marc Riedel, Southeastern Louisiana University; Bernard Cohen, Queens College, CUNY; Albert P. Cardarelli, Emeritus, University of Massachusetts-Boston; with thanks to CAP Index and Nathan Figlio

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James B. Skellenger
1929-2008

His many friends, colleagues, and hundreds of former students will be saddened to hear of the death of James B. Skellenger, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Kent State University. He died at the age of 78 on February 9, 2008, at the Hospice of the Visiting Nurses Service in Fairlawn, OH. In spite of very good health most of his life, he succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer that took his life within a few months of onset.

Jim was born March 27, 1929, in Cadillac, MI, attended public schools in Cleveland, OH, and received his BA from Fenn College in 1957. Two years later he earned an MA in Sociology from Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University). He later received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University.

After receiving his master’s degree he moved to Adelphi College where he became an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. Within a few years he was appointed Assistant Dean at the Suffolk division of Adelphi College. In 1961, returning to the Cleveland area, he accepted an appointment as Director of the Cleveland Academic Center of Kent State University. Seeking to build on his administrative experiences in urban settings, Jim accepted the position of Associate Director of the Center for Urban Regionalism at Kent State University in 1966. Housed in the same building, this unit had close contact with the Department of Sociology. The experiences he had with this department and its faculty members, together with his own intellectual development, soon resulted in an identity shift from administrator to professor. Commensurate with such a change, in 1967 he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kent State University.

During his years as a member of the faculty, Jim taught many courses in the department, especially those focused on the institutions of education and religion. Always interested in aiding others, he developed the mass class in the Introductory Sociology course at Kent State. During his years as a member of the faculty, it was clear that the identity of professor suited him very well and benefited thousands of students.

As a consequence of his administrative experience and desire to assist others, however, he often found himself serving in a variety of administrative positions both in and out of the department. One of the most noteworthy of such experiences occurred when he was elected President of the Kent State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, serving from 1984-1986.

After he retired from the faculty of Kent State University in 1987, he taught on a part-time basis at several colleges and universities in northeastern Ohio. Many of these opportunities were the result of former students who knew about him or colleagues who learned that he was available.

Jim gave generously of his time and resources to a wide variety of worthy organizations. The leitmotif of most of these efforts was his lifelong desire to help children in need irrespective of geographical location. He was also a strong supporter of and contributor to the Cleveland Museum of Art and had a small but carefully chosen collection of opera records and CDs. He was careful, however, to spare others the occasional times when he would launch a heartfelt attempt to sing along, using a voice that immediately revealed his wise choice not to become a professional singer. He was an avid student of genealogy and history, especially American presidential history. To learn some aspect of this subject, you just asked Jim, who not only would be very likely to have the correct answer but could also explain in succinct detail why that information was important for the context and time.

As a person, Jim was compassionate, thoughtful, considerate, humorous, extremely witty and one of the best storytellers around. He is also remembered as a devoted and loving father to his children, Shirley, Dean, Roy, and Karl. They survive him as do their mother, Alice, grandsons and a great-granddaughter. In keeping with his wishes, and after a well-attended service, his ashes were buried in the family plot in Brooklyn Heights Cemetery in Cleveland, OH.

D. E. Benson, with the assistance of Jerry Lewis and Nancy Terjesen

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Herman W. Smith, III
1943-2008

Herman Smith, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, died April 5, 2008, from esophageal cancer. He was 65.

Smith received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1965, and worked as a statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau while completing his master’s degree in 1967 at the American University in Washington, DC. In 1971, he received his doctorate from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He spent the next 32 years at the University of Missouri-St. Louis rising through the ranks in the Department of Sociology. He served two terms as presiding officer of the Faculty Council. He retired in 2002, but continued researching and mentoring as professor emeritus.

Smith published more than 40 articles in a variety of scholarly journals, including American Sociological Review, Asian Journal of Social Psychology, Human Relations, Journal of Mathematical Sociology, Qualitative Sociology, Small Group Behavior, Social Forces, Social Psychology Quarterly, Sociological Theory and Research, and Symbolic Interaction. Some of his articles were written and published in Japanese. Smith’s books include textbooks on social psychology and methodology, plus a research monograph on Japanese homogeneity.

He was proud of becoming the first self-taught member of the Affect Control Theory research group. The group fit his expertise as a mathematical sociologist, statistician and research methodologist interested in the cross-cultural study of emotions. In 1984, he went to Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, as a research visiting professor, where he started his cross-culture studies of affect and emotion. Over the next 20 years, he became fluent in Japanese; his second area of pride was being awarded two Fulbright Teaching Scholarships to Japan. The first was in 1989 at Tohoku University in Sendai and the second in 1995 in Tokyo, at both Kyoritsu Women’s University and Japan Women’s University. Additionally, he was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, in 2000.

Smith was an avid canoeist, kayaker, and paddle-sport instructor for over 40 years. He was a founding member of StreamTeach, Inc., a nonprofit business with the goal of establishing a whitewater park in St. Louis for economic development and community revitalization of north St. Louis. This was his avocational passion, apart from running whitewater rapids all over the world.

Smith is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Burrows; sons Craig (Mary) and Erik (Neetu); granddaughters Chloe, Sophie, and Mira; sister Carol; stepmother Rosemary; and cousins Sheila and Karen. He will be missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow paddlers.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to StreamTeach Inc., PO Box 9155, St. Louis, MO 63117, or to the Siteman Cancer Center, 660 S. Euclid Ave., Box 8100, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Linda Francis, University of Akron; David Heise, Indiana University; Neil MacKinnon, University of Guelph; Andreas Schneie Texas Tech University

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