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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 alums@northwestern.edu.

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John Ruan III

John Ruan III ’67, Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 11, 2021, at age 78. A shrewd businessman with a passion for philanthropy, Ruan deeply impacted Des Moines through generous donations and public beautification projects, including the renovation and expansion of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. He earned degrees from Northwestern and Harvard Business School before joining the family businesses, Ruan Transportation Management Systems and Bankers Trust, in 1953, leading both to unprecedented success. He served as the chairman for the World Food Prize Foundation for 20 years and was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 2012. Ruan is survived by his wife, Janis; their two children, John Ruan IV and Rachel Ruan McLean ’00, ’03 MA, ’05 PhD; and five grandchildren. 

Joanne Smith

Joanne Smith ’92 GME, Hinsdale, Ill., Sept. 6, 2021, at age 60. A faculty member at the Feinberg School of Medicine for 25 years, Smith transformed the field of physical medicine. In 1988 Smith completed her residency at what was then the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and never left, becoming president and CEO in 2006. She envisioned one of the first “translational” research hospitals, where scientists and physicians work in the same space as patients and apply (or “translate”) research in real time. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a 1.2 million-square-foot research hospital and the manifestation of Smith’s vision, opened in March 2017. Smith was named to Modern Healthcare’s 2021 Top 25 Women Leaders list. She is survived by her husband, Rory Repicky; children Claire and Michael; four sisters; and three brothers. Photo: Katrina Wittkamp

Robert Allen Gardner ’54 PhD, Reno, Nev., Aug. 20, 2021, at age 91. A psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Gardner received worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking research on cross-fostered chimpanzees (chimps raised by humans). With his late wife and research partner, Trixie, Gardner taught Washoe the chimpanzee American Sign Language in the 1960s. Washoe learned approximately 130 signs throughout his life. At their home laboratory, the Gardners created an enriching environment where they replicated their success with four additional infant chimpanzees. Their findings marked a new method for two-way communication between chimpanzees and humans and generated a wave of cognitive research. They gave lectures around the world and visited Jane Goodall in Tanzania to observe chimpanzees in the wild. Gardner continued to publish scholarly articles after his retirement in 2010. 

Teruaki Aoki

Teruaki Aoki ’70 PhD, Tokyo, Aug. 17, 2021, at age 79. Serving for more than 30 years at Sony, including as president and chief operating officer, Aoki generated dozens of patents in the U.S. and Japan. He played a key role in the development of the DVD player, and in 1999 he accepted an Emmy Award for scientific and technological advancement on Sony’s behalf. As the former president of the NU Club of Japan, Aoki hosted events in Tokyo for alumni and families. He served on the McCormick School of Engineering Advisory Council, the Materials Science and Engineering Advisory Board and the Kellogg Global Advisory Board. The Northwestern Alumni Association honored Aoki with an Alumni Merit Award in 2000 for his contributions to the University and to society. He is survived by his wife, Reiko. Photo: Courtesy of Friends of U Tokyo Inc

Howard J. Trienens

Howard J. Trienens ’45, ’49 JD, ’95 H, Glencoe, Ill., July 26, 2021, at age 97. A life trustee and former chair of the Board of Trustees, Trienens generously supported Northwestern. After graduating in 1949, Trienens joined the law firm Sidley Austin as an associate. He served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson before returning to Sidley, where he worked from 1956 until his death. In honor of his service, the partners at Sidley Austin established the Howard J. Trienens Visiting Judicial Scholar Program and the Howard J. Trienens Professorship, which have benefited the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. He received Northwestern’s Alumni Medal in 1996. He was the first recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013 and was elected to the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. In memory of his late wife, Paula Miller Trienens ’47, he created the Howard & Paula Trienens Fund to support The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. He also supported the renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena’s practice facility, which is named the Trienens Performance Center in his honor. He is survived by his daughter and fellow Northwestern trustee Nan Trienens Kaehler ’79 MA/MS; his son, Kip; nine grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Richard Stolley

Richard Stolley ’52, ’53 MS, Evanston, June 16, 2021, at age 92. A trailblazer of celebrity news coverage, Stolley played a major role in the magazine industry during his six-decade career as a journalist. In 1963 Stolley acquired the Zapruder film footage of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination for Life magazine, where he had worked for a decade. After leaving Life in 1972, Stolley became the founding editor of People, where he spent eight years as the magazine’s managing editor. During his tenure there, People reached a circulation of 2.35 million readers and became the most profitable magazine in the U.S. Stolley went on to become an editorial director as well as an adviser at Time Inc. Magazines until his retirement in 2014. Stolley is survived by four daughters, a stepson and seven grandchildren. Photo: © Wire Images / Jason Kempin

Edward M. Tunnicliff

Edward M. Tunnicliff ’50, Kingsford, Mich., May 4, at age 95. A Northwestern football legend, Tunnicliff scored the game-winning touchdown in the Wildcats’ 20-14 win over the University of California, Berkeley, at the 1949 Rose Bowl. Tunnicliff carried a Bears defender the final 7 yards, surging into the endzone for the 43-yard score. Looking back on that moment, he recalled thinking to himself, “I’m going to get to that goal line if I have to carry the whole stadium.” Tunnicliff attended Northwestern with assistance from the GI Bill after serving in World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and decorated with a Purple Heart. After graduating in 1950, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles but instead chose to coach high school football. In 1957 he began working as a life insurance salesman. Tunnicliff is survived by four children and 10 grandchildren.

Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern University Archives