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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Rebecca M. Blank, former professor of economics, Madison, Wis., Feb. 17, 2023, at age 67. Blank was selected to succeed Morton Schapiro as president of Northwestern in October 2021 but stepped down from her role as president-elect after being diagnosed with cancer in July 2022. An internationally renowned economist, Blank taught in the economics department at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from 1989 to 1999. She served as director of the Joint Center for Poverty Research and as co-director of the Northwestern/ University of Chicago Interdisciplinary Training Program in Poverty, Race and Underclass Issues. Blank was an advocate for equity and diversity, making both a priority during her 2013–22 tenure as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received the prestigious Posse Star award for her leadership in education and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in 2021. She also was recognized with a lifetime achievement award as a 2021 Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association. Blank served in three U.S. presidential administrations, most recently as acting secretary of commerce and deputy secretary of commerce under former President Barack Obama ’06 H. She is survived by her husband, Hans Kuttner, and their daughter, Emily Kuttner ’18.
Photo Credit: Shane Collins
Ned Smith, Wilmette, Ill., Sept. 25, 2021, at age 40. An associate professor of management and organizations, Smith joined the Kellogg School of Management in 2013 and served as an associate professor of sociology (by courtesy) at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He was also a core faculty member of the Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems. Smith’s research demonstrated that social networks can have influential psychological and cognitive determinants. Following his 2018 glioblastoma diagnosis, Smith chronicled his experiences in an online journal in hopes that sharing his journey with cancer could help others. He and his family partnered with two other Chicago-area families to launch Pickles Group, a nonprofit that supports children through their parents’ cancer. Kellogg’s Research Mentorship Award, which Smith received in 2019, has been renamed in his honor. Members of the Northwestern community honored Smith’s life during various memorial receptions and a ser- vice at Alice Millar Chapel. He is survived by his wife, Erin, and their four children, Finn, Beckett, Eliza and Cecily. Photo: Evanston Photographic Studios Inc.
Arnold Weber, Northwestern University president emeritus, Northbrook, Ill., Aug. 20, age 90. Weber presided over a decade of growth and prosperity that strengthened the University financially and academically and put it on a path to national prominence as a research powerhouse. He helped put the University on a solid financial footing, allowing Northwestern to attract top faculty, address deferred maintenance and develop significant new academic initiatives, including returning to a strong focus on teaching undergraduates. Weber’s legacy also includes attracting unprecedented support for the University’s growing research enterprise, helping triple its invested assets, boosting enrollment, enhancing the student experience and beautifying the physical campus.
Born and raised in New York City, Weber attended the University of Illinois, where he met Edna Files, whom he later married. Weber earned a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where George Schultz was his adviser. When Schultz became dean at the University of Chicago, he recruited Weber to join the Graduate School of Business faculty. He and Schultz were considered among the nation’s top labor economists. The two also worked closely in the Nixon administration. Weber served as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970–71 and as executive director of the Cost of Living Council, an initiative to halt inflation.
After stints as provost at Carnegie Mellon University and president of the University of Colorado, Weber became Northwestern’s 14th president in 1985. Following his retirement in 1994, Weber was named University chancellor in 1995 and three years later became president emeritus.
Weber is survived by his three sons, Paul, David and Bob; and eight grandchildren. (See “A Hard Act to Follow.”)
Credit: Dewey Hentges
Don E. Schultz, Chicago, June 4, 2020, age 86. Commonly referred to as the “father of IMC,” Schultz joined the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications faculty in 1977. He chaired the Department of Advertising in the mid-1980s and led the consolidation of the school’s advertising, direct marketing and public relations curricula in the late ’80s. In 1991, Medill launched the first graduate-level integrated marketing communications program in the United States. A prolific scholar, Schultz wrote or co-wrote 28 books. He received Northwestern’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 2010 and was inducted into Medill’s Hall of Achievement in 2019. He also was president of Agora Inc., a global marketing, communication and branding consulting firm in Chicago. Schultz is survived by his wife, Heidi, who was his business partner and co-author on several books; his sons, Steven, Bradley and Jeff; and seven grandchildren. Read Schultz's full Northwestern obituary.
Photo: Courtesy of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Hecky Powell, Evanston, May 22, 2020, age 71. A lifelong Evanston resident and adored member of the community, Powell opened Hecky’s Barbecue in 1983 with just $100 in his cash register. With the view that he could make the greatest difference in his community as a small-business owner, Powell employed local high school students at his restaurant and founded the Work Ethic Program to provide training, internships, mentoring and tuition stipends to students interested in trade and tech. He also started the Forrest E. Powell Foundation, a youth vocational program named after his father. Powell’s positive influence on Evanston young people earned him a godfather-like reputation, and he served in countless city leadership roles, including as board president of Evanston/Skokie School District 65. The annual Northwestern community picnic has been named in memory of Powell. He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Judice ’76 MA, ’06 PhD, an adjunct professor in the School of Education and Social Policy; his children, Sharmin, Terry, Dawn, Joy, Hecky Jr., Jason and Gigi; and his grandchildren. Read Powell's full Northwestern obituary.
Photo: Genie Lemieux/Evanston Photo
Catherine Logan Stembridge ʼ00 MS, Evanston, March 4, at age 70. A longtime leader of Northwestern alumni organizations and director of Northwestern’s “We Will” Campaign leadership committees, Stembridge was beloved by her University colleagues and hundreds of alumni. For more than 30 years, she served Northwestern alumni, first as director of the Northwestern Alumni Association’s clubs program, then as the association’s deputy director and executive director, and then as associate vice president of Alumni Relations and Development. Stembridge was a member of the Council of One Hundred, Rho Lambda and the Women’s Board of Northwestern. She was also an honorary member of the N Club and NUMBALUMS. She is survived by her husband, George; children Catherine “Katie” Wisby ’05 MBA and George IV; and grandchildren Beau and Mary. Read her full Northwestern obituary.
David S. Ruder, former dean of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the William W. Gurley Memorial Professor of Law Emeritus, Highland Park, Ill., Feb. 15, 2020, at age 90. During two years as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the late 1980s, Ruder confronted what is still the largest single-day stock market crash in U.S. history, on Oct. 19, 1987. He led the SEC’s implementation of new mechanisms to protect the markets, including “circuit breakers” that are still in place today. Ruder, who joined the Northwestern faculty in 1961, served as dean of the law school from 1977 to 1985. As dean he helped plan the construction of the Rubloff Building and the remodeling of Levy Mayer and McCormick halls. He also recruited several distinguished scholars to join the faculty. A leading scholar in corporate and securities law, Ruder taught courses in enforcement, insider trading, tender offers and other regulatory topics. He became professor emeritus in 2005 and continued to teach through the 2016–17 academic year. He is survived by his wife, Susan Frankel Ruder ’83 JD; a daughter, Julia; sons David S. Ruder II ’00 JD, MBA and John; stepchildren Elizabeth and Rebecca; and nine grandchildren.