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In Memoriam

In memoriam is a page to read featured obituaries of Northwestern alumni, faculty and staff. Visit Remembrances to read memorials of Northwestern community members submitted by their family or peers. Please send obituaries to

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Edmund W. Chang

Edmund W. Chang ’80, West Newton, Mass., Aug. 18, 2022, at age 64. Whether it was work, independent projects, design competitions or teaching, Chang never lost his passion for architecture and design. After graduating from Northwestern with a degree in American studies, he worked as a designer for an architectural firm before attending the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He later moved to Los Angeles and worked as an architect while also teaching at the University of Southern California. In 1990 he and his then partner, former Harvard classmate Roger Sherman, won a design competition for the West Hollywood Civic Center in Los Angeles. In 1992 he started Chang and Sylligardos Architects with his wife, Susan Sylligardos. They relocated to the Boston area and worked on residential and institutional projects for Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In Newton, Mass., Chang designed City Hall’s Millennium Park and worked on an urban design committee for the area. Chang, who retired in 2021, is survived by his wife; his son, Alexander; his mother, Edith; his sister, Phyllis; and his brother, Laurence.

Valerie Boyd

Valerie Boyd ’85, Atlanta, Feb. 12, 2022, at age 58. An associate professor at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Boyd wrote the well-regarded biography Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Boyd first discovered the Harlem Renaissance writer’s work in an African American studies class at Northwestern. She spent several years as arts editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before she began teaching in 2004. Boyd was named the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Grady College in 2007 and was director of the Giving Voice to the Voiceless Program. In 2017 she received a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities, and later this year she will be inducted into Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Her most recent book project, Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, The Journals of Alice Walker 1965–2000, will be published this year. Her anthology Bigger Than Bravery: Black Writers on the Pandemic, Shutdown and Uprising of 2020 is also scheduled for publication. She is survived by two brothers. 

Photo Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Akbar Virmani

Akbar Virmani ’80 MA, ’96 PhD, Glenview, Ill., Dec. 1, 2020, at age 64. Virmani was born in Uganda to parents of Indian descent. The family settled in the United States in 1973 after South Asians were forcibly displaced from Uganda. Virmani came to Northwestern for graduate study in political science. As assistant and associate director of Northwestern’s Program of African Studies from 1986 to 2003, Virmani administered research programs and maintained PAS’s alumni and international ties. He also taught and mentored graduate and undergraduate students.

Henry D. Bullock

Henry D. Bullock ’80 MBA, Palo Alto, Calif., July 9, at age 63. A commercial real estate expert, Bullock co-founded Menlo Equities, which invests in corporate office campuses in high-demand, technology-driven markets. Its first investment was Apple’s original headquarters. He began his career at Wells Fargo in San Francisco and later became a managing partner at the Shidler Group. In support of Northwestern, Bullock served as the inaugural chair of the Kellogg Cornerstone Circle and volunteered for Kellogg School of Management admissions, the school’s campaign committee and his reunion committee. Bullock was an avid golfer who believed in living every day to its fullest. He is survived by his companion, Sonia; a son, Benjamin; a daughter, Christine Bullock Wendell ’17 MBA; a grandson, Brooks; his mother, Mary; siblings Page, Sarah and Madelene; and the mother of his children, Terri.

Marcia Lipetz

Marcia Lipetz ’80 PhD, Evanston, Sept. 11, 2018, age 71. Known for her commitment to civil rights, Lipetz helped create and guide some of Chicago’s most important LGBTQ organizations. She served as the first full-time executive director of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago as the crisis unfolded in the 1980s and helped to establish the Center on Halstead, the largest LGBTQ social service agency in the Midwest. Lipetz also contributed to educational and outreach efforts related to HIV and co-chaired (with Fred Eychaner ’66) a local American Civil Liberties Union task force that led to the organization’s AIDS and Civil Liberties Project. She earned her doctorate in sociology from Northwestern and later taught at the University. In 2009 Lipetz was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. She is survived by her wife, Lynda Crawford, and a sister, Judith Graham. Photo by Hal Baim, courtesy of Windy City Times 

Han Chun Choi

Han Chun Choi ’88, Decatur, Ga., March 26, 2018, at age 52. Shortly after graduating from Northwestern, Mr. Choi joined the staff of then-Gov. Bill Clinton in Arkansas. He became a policy adviser to the governor in 1990–91, just prior to Clinton’s bid for the White House. At Clinton’s urging, Mr. Choi earned his law degree at Emory University in 1993 and later joined the public and corporate finance practice group of King & Spalding in Atlanta. He became one of the first Asian American office managing partners of a top-100 law firm, Ballard Spahr. Mr. Choi served on the board of the Korean American Bar Association of Georgia, which he co-founded. Born in Gangneung, South Korea, Mr. Choi immigrated to the United States as a toddler. He is survived by his wife, Catherine Abrams; their three children, Christopher, David and Hannah; his ­parents, Tom and Susie; and a sister, Angie.

robert cotton obitRobert Cotton Fite ’81 PhD, Aug. 15, 2017, Glenview, Ill., at age 79.

An Episcopal priest, clinical psychologist and activist, Rev. Fite was known for his dedication to peace, justice and service through his preaching, counseling work and advocacy in support of the Palestinian cause.

Rev. Fite was priest associate at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston for almost 40 years. He was also board chair of the Seraj Library Project, an organization created to build children's libraries in rural Palestinian villages.

After Rev. Fite made his first trip to Israel and Palestine in 2003, he pushed for a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He devoted himself to the Palestinian struggle for justice. He led workshops and spoke to congregations about the issue. He was the first convener of the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and was a member of the Chicago Faith Coalition.

Ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Rev. Fite entered a joint program at Northwestern and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary to train as a pastoral counselor. He then joined the clinical staff at the Pastoral Counseling Center at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., in 1979. He served as the center’s director from 1985 to 2002.

Rev. Fite is survived by his wife, Diane; two daughters, Katherine and Hunter; and five grandchildren.