November Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 8

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Susan Schwartz Danziger Borchert

Susan died on August 9, 2014, at the age of 67 after a one-year battle with bronchiectasis (COPD). She received her BA (1970), MA (1972), and PhD (1979) in sociology from Ohio State University. She held several social services administrative positions in Youngstown, OH and Santa Clara County, CA. Her primary academic position was as Lake Erie College’s (Painesville, OH) lone sociologist (1984–2005). She taught the full range of undergraduate sociology courses and several classes for the school’s MBA program, including “Health Care Delivery Systems” and “Organizational Behavior.” Susan also taught at Adrian College, MI, Youngstown State, Ursuline College, and San Jose State University. For the latter, she taught “Changing Gender Roles” at the California State Prison at Soledad. Susan co-authored a book, Lakewood, and articles in Social Science History, Slovakia, Michigan Academician, and elsewhere; she also reviewed books, films, and manuscripts for 30 years. Susan engaged a broader public in op-ed pieces in local newspapers and served on several social change efforts including the Cuyahoga Co. (OH) Pay Equity Task Force. She fused experiential and classroom learning experiences whenever she could as in her course on Habitat for Humanity, which engaged students in the analysis of U.S. housing conditions and an applied experience volunteering in home building. She is survived by her husband of 32 years, historian Jim Borchert. 

Jim Borchert

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Llewellyn Z. Gross

A member of the ASA for more than 70 years, Lewellyn Z. Gross, professor emeritus, University at Buffalo (SUNY), died on August 21, one month after celebrating his 100th birthday with his family. His wife of 74 years, Genevieve, died a few years before. Lew began his career at the University of Minnesota where he received his doctorate, spent two years at the University of Idaho, before moving onto Buffalo where he taught for 34 years and served as chair for 13 years.

Author or editor of four books and numerous articles, Lew’s most influential book is Symposium on Sociological Theory (1959). A 1968 study ranked it 16th in a list of 1,000 books that 52 doctoral programs expected their doctoral candidates to know and 10th among living authors.*  More than a half-century later many of the contributions to Symposium remain relevant and provocative, including an early version of C. Wright Mills’ essay “On Intellectual Craftsmanship,” and chapters with members of Lew’s theory group, Reinhard Bendix, Bennett Berger, Robert Bierstadt, Alvin Gouldner, C. Wright Mills, Gideon Sjoberg, and Kurt H. Wolff.

Lew’s intellectual journey began with philosophy and turned to sociology in search of a fuller understanding of human behavior. What he encountered instead was a discipline that was, at the time, intent upon reducing the complexity of human behavior to what could be operationalized and measured—an approach that effectively ruled out one of humankind’s most powerful forces, emotion. This conundrum cast this gentle, soft-spoken, and open-minded man in the unlikely role of a disciplinary gadfly who critiqued the dominant trends in the field from Lundberg to Parsons and most recently in a 2008 exchange with Randall Collins (Contemporary Sociology 37:2). Throughout his career, he opposed, on philosophical grounds, pressures toward premature paradigmatic closure in the field, advocating, instead a “neodialectical” meta-framework that remained open to interdisciplinary insights into social behavior. For Lew, diversity was both a matter of justice and a methodological imperative. He anticipated the linguistic turn in contemporary scholarship by decades, urging attention to ‘patterns’ or ‘social logics’ in language use, which bears affinity to George Lakoff’s work on metaphor. Lew saw this social logic as complementing scientific logic with a rational rhetoric of everyday discourse. Or, as he once put it, with a smile and a wink, during a spirited seminar discussion of postmodernism: a “good rationality” that absorbs well-grounded critiques of Enlightenment rationality but refuses to surrender to irrationality. He believed a neodialectical approach would infuse sociology with new ideas, engender intellectual humility and a self-correcting reflexivity that could produce the kind of sociologically grounded advancement of knowledge envisioned by C.S. Pierce. He lived long enough to see his views vindicated.

Lew’s pedagogy was gently Socratic, never confrontational but always probing. Students looking to him for answers were usually disappointed as he was more concerned with providing them with resources to find their own answers. He modeled humane tolerance, displaying zest for and joy in the play of ideas accompanied by deep compassion for human suffering. A fellow graduate student once described him as “a mountain.” He explained his odd metaphor saying something to the effect that ‘Dr. Gross’s intellect is so formidable that it is impossible to reach the summit, but the rewards are in the effort and they are inexhaustible.’ My own contact with Lew spanned more than a half-century, from student to friend, and that metaphor has never lost its resonance.

A theorist first, and perhaps as much philosopher as sociologist, Lew nonetheless undertook a broad range of applied studies in social psychology, medical sociology, educational sociology, social stratification, and organizational analysis. His commitments to openness and reflexivity did not prevent him from drawing conclusions though he always regarded the closure that produced them as temporary.

In retirement, he continued to write but his audience gradually shifted from the profession to family and friends. Never losing his sense of humor, in recent years, he sometimes signed letters, “Still alive, Lew.” He was pleased that he could still do his own planting until he was 89; and he didn’t mean petunias, but trees, acres of them.

Sue Curry Jansen, Muhlenberg College
*B.J. Kelly, Sociology and Social Research 48 (1968): 449-53

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Harvey Huston Marshall

Harvey Marshall joined the Purdue faculty in 1969 after obtaining the PhD in sociology from the University of Southern California. He also received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in sociology from Washington State University. Marshall was an urban sociologist, demographer, and quantitative methodologist. One of his early contributions to the Department was the creation of an advanced statistics sequence that was required for all graduate students.

Professor Marshall’s entire career was as a teacher and scholar and he published extensively on changing patterns of urban change in major metropolitan areas in the United States. Among his many contributions was his early analysis of so-called “white flight” in urban areas as a response to changing policies in school desegregation. Later in his career his interests included the sociology of developing nations. During the 1990-1991 academic year, he was a visiting professor of sociology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. This experience contributed to his growing interest in comparing developed and developing nations.

Professor Marshall was born in San Diego, California, on November 25, 1939, and he grew up in a military family which entailed frequent moves. In 1956, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Carbonero, a submarine on duty in the Pacific. Following his time in the Navy, he returned to San Francisco and began his academic studies. 

Professor Marshall passed away on May 23, 2014, and is survived by his wife Joan, who is Senior Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts, and his son Jeffery who attained his PhD in economics from Stanford University.

Carolyn Cummings Perrucci and Robert Perrucci, Purdue University

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Norman Miller

On March 26, 2014, Norman Miller died at his home in Brookline, MA. Ben Miller, Norman’s son, organized a June 22 memorial gathering for family and friends. This obituary draws freely on the statements written to mark Norman’s passing.

Norman was born in Romania, was raised in Philadelphia, and during WWII served in the U.S. Army. Ben Miller wrote of his father’s age that “he was either 92 or 93 depending on whether you believe the Romanians or the Army.” Following the war, he studied for his PhD at Columbia University, where he studied under Robert K. Merton.

At the time of his death, Norman was Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Norman arrived at Trinity in 1969. Like several other male liberal arts schools in New England, Trinity offered no sociology. The college recruited Norman specifically to found a sociology department. In that same year the College went coed. Rebecca Adams, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and one of the first sociology graduates, especially appreciated Norman’s supportive attention to the work of women sociologists. It is a tribute to Norman that in this environment he successfully established a department that within three years increased in size with tenure track posts and, at Norman’s behest, recruited a new chair to routinize the founder’s charisma. Norman was certainly a charismatic figure to many of his students and colleagues, and like most such figures was not only inspiring but also challenging, perhaps even intimidating. As Steven Barkan, another of his early students writes “... he was gruff but loving, or should I say loving but gruff. He continuously prodded me to think like a sociologist and constantly told me in a commanding tone, ‘Don’t psychologize!’.”

Recruited in 1972 to follow Norman as chair of the newly enlarged sociology department, I can attest that Norman laid a solid intellectual foundation for sociology at Trinity College. From the start, Norman emphasized the integration of teaching and research. He provided students with training and equipment to analyze data and then initiated a departmental survey of the freshman class each year to provide data for use in courses. He also established a sociology laboratory and a corps of student laboratory assistants. These both enhanced the new department’s presence on the campus and attracted research-oriented students, a number of whom went on to graduate school and notable professional careers as sociologists. As Steven Barkan, University of Maine, observed, “He trained several future sociologists in data analysis with card sorters and keypunch machines, and it never bothered him when a card got shredded.” To name just a few of the earliest, students include Jeffery Chin, LeMoyne College, and Diane Colasanto, co-founder and retired President of Princeton Survey Research Associates. Colasanto noted that it was from Norman that she learned “how much you can learn from the careful and clever analysis of data.”

Before Trinity, Norman held positions at New York University, the University of Chicago, the National Opinion Research Center, and the University of Buffalo. Norman’s intellectual collegiality is evident in his many coauthored papers and articles with other eminent social scientists in a variety of substantive areas. And from the beginning to the end, his scholarly advice was sought and respected. For example at Buffalo in the 1950s he taught with Alvin Gouldner who wrote in the preface to his early book Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy.

Judaism and Jewish life was a central theme running through Norman’s life and career and a central matter of study after his retirement in 1988. Thus one of his earliest projects was the study of leadership in the Jewish community and one of his chief accomplishments in retirement was his founding of Mendele, a free moderated mailing list devoted to the Yiddish language and Yiddish-related news. Harold Bershady, Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, described Mendele: “The meanings and origins of words and idiomatic expressions my parents and grandparents used that I remembered but weren’t understood were revealed to me more fully, and sometimes for the very first time. In a way, this actually brought me closer to my family, gave me a bit more understanding of how they thought and even what they felt…. And very far from least, Mendele has helped keep marvelous literary elements of this Yiddish culture from being forgotten.”

As Norman made clear in an email to Mike Gerver, he thought of himself as definitely secular but also definitely Jewish, and most definitely a student of Judaism: “And I too fast on Yom KIppur. But certainly not as an act of atonement (for that I’d have to fast 364 days a year) but as an act that ties me to other Jews...But as for belief, none at all. I don’t believe in a god who cares more for Jews than for others or who cares at all or is in fact capable of caring.” And as to the relationship between religion and science he wrote, “I hold the by-now dated ideas that faith and science exist in parallel universes. Neither has the slightest bearing on the other. We are free to move back and forth between the two but we try in vain to make the two worlds one, to resolve contradictions.”

As the foregoing suggests, Norman was a man with many enthusiasms. Some of these, such as fishing and birding, remained at the level of leisure activities. But Norman integrated others, in particular literature and photography, into his professional life. Norman read widely and voraciously, with a penchant for the novels of Jane Austen. The breadth of his knowledge allowed him to teach a fine course in the sociology of literature in cooperation with a highly respected member of Trinity’s English department. The depth of his knowledge of Jane Austen’s work led to papers, well received by the English Department as well as by sociologists, analyzing her novels from a sociological viewpoint. In the many years that I knew Norman in the pre-digital age, when photography was more restricted both in practice and in access to content, I rarely saw him without a camera at hand or saw him inhibited in shooting by everyday social conventions. In short, he had assumed the persona of a professional photographer. Through both self-education and courses of study in photography, he acquired the knowledge and skill to legitimate that persona.

He used that knowledge and skill to practice what became known as visual sociology and to teach what was surely one of the first courses in that subject. I wish that a collection of Norman’s photographs was publicly available today so that we might benefit from the instantaneous visual records of social life that this highly perceptive sociologist produced.

John Brewer, Trinity College

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Leonard I. Pearlin

Leonard I. Pearlin, whose work on the social origins of mental illness shaped sociological research on the stress process, passed away July 23 at the age of 89 after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife Gerrie, daughters Susan and Gina, and grandson Derick. Len also leaves behind a small army of colleagues who also count him as a cherished friend.

Len Pearlin was born December 26, 1924, in Quincy, MA, the birthplace of two presidents, John and John Quincy Adams, a fact he took pleasure in reporting, perhaps because his parents were immigrants from the Ukraine and Latvia. After being wounded during his military service in the South Pacific in World War II, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart, Len returned to the United States under the sole surviving son policy after his two older brothers were killed, a loss he carried throughout his life.

Len received his BA in sociology from Oklahoma University in 1949. He intended to study Social Anthropology but chose sociology instead because, as he was fond of explaining, the line to sign up was shorter and his young wife was waiting for him. Len received his PhD from Columbia University in 1956, writing his dissertation under the direction of Herbert Hyman while also teaching at a Women’s College in Greensboro, NC. He then went to Ohio State University for a year before moving to the Laboratory of Socio-Environmental Studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to work as a Research Scientist. For more than two decades at NIMH, Len collaborated with a number of other influential sociologists, including Melvin Kohn, Morris Rosenberg, and Carmi Schooler, to contribute a number of seminal papers in the emerging area of the sociology of mental health. It was during this time that he conducted his classic Chicago study, which introduced concepts and measures that would go on to change the way sociologists thought about stress and the ways in which stress infiltrated people’s lives. This study led directly to the development of the “stress process” with which he is most closely identified.

In 1982, he retired from NIMH to become Professor in the Human Development and Aging Program at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), assuming the Directorship of that program, 1982–1984. During his tenure at UCSF, Len Pearlin developed and elaborated the stress process paradigm. It would become the dominant model that influenced research on social structure and mental health over the next four decades. He also initiated studies of caregiving for two important populations that could be assumed a priori to be under considerable demand and hardship. The first was a longitudinal study of informal caregivers to persons with AIDS, which evolved quickly into a study of bereavement. The second was a longitudinal study of family caregivers to persons with Alzheimer’s disease, for whom caregiving typically extended for years. Both of these studies were conducted at sites in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in collaboration with Carol S. Aneshensel at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Len retired from UCSF in 1994 and returned to the Washington, DC, area where he became Graduate Professor and Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. It was during this time that he extended the stress process paradigm to incorporate principles of the life course perspective. In collaboration with Scott Schieman, he conducted still another influential study of stress and health, in this case among the older population. He retired in 2007.

Len’s contributions to the field have been monumental. His ideas about the ways in which the social organization of society shapes the psychological well-being of its members form the intellectual roots for a vast body of research on stress and mental health. The publication of “The Structure of Coping” in 1978 and “The Stress Process” in 1981 propelled forward sociological research on how enduring stressors encountered in ordinary daily life lead to the depletion of the very social and psychological resources that might otherwise offset the damaging emotional impact of these stressors. Both of these papers are Citation Classics on the Web of Science. This emphasis on everyday life stood in contrast to the dominant paradigm at the time. It also opened the door to the further conceptual elaboration of the universe of stressors to encompass a much wider array of challenges and obstacles that impinge on people’s mental health.

His 1989 article, “The Sociological Study of Stress,” chastised sociologists for the prevailing tendency to reduce social phenomena to intra-individual processes. This critique reoriented sociological research toward the ways in which social stratification generates differences in risk for psychological distress. The agenda set forth in this paper is still being actualized.

Len also articulated the connections between the stress process and other areas of study. An influential and much cited 1990 paper spelled out concepts and measures for the study of caregiving within gerontology. In 1996 and 2005 articles he spelled out how the stress process and the life course perspective form a paradigmatic alliance. In addition to his theoretical contributions to the field, his empirical research spanned a broad spectrum of social life including work and the family, aging and the life course, and caregiving. His research has a lasting legacy.

This extraordinary record of scholarly achievement garnered Len a lengthy list of accolades. He was the 1991 recipient of the Leo G. Reeder Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Medical Sociology from the American Sociological Association. In 1992, he received the award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychiatric Sociology from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. That same year, he received a MERIT Award from the NIMH. He received the award for Lifetime Contributions to the Sociology of Mental Health from the ASA Mental Health Section in 1996. In 1998, he was named recipient of the ASA Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology. Leonard Pearlin also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ghent in Belgium. He was the 2004 recipient of the Distinguished Career Contribution Award of the Behavior and Social Sciences Section of the Gerontological Society of America.

His service in other capacities is also noteworthy. He was a special grants consultant for a host of National Institutes of Health review committees for more than 40 years. Len also served on the Advisory Committee of the National Institute on Aging and on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association. He served on the National Board of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association as well as the Advisory Committee of the Herczeg Institute on Aging in Israel. Len was Editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior from 1982–1984.

Len was one of the finest mentors in the discipline. He trained a number of outstanding doctoral students who have gone on to have excellent careers. He always had time to encourage and support the work of new researchers. He helped to launch the careers of a number of people who have gone on to make important contributions to the field in their own work. Len has been a helpful and approachable colleague whose efforts have resulted in a stronger and more vibrant field. In 2000, Len and Gerrie generously established the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health.

As much as Len is esteemed by his colleagues, this regard is surpassed by their affection for him.

Carol S. Aneshensel, University of California-Los Angeles, and William R. Avison, University of Western Ontario

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