Remembrances is a page to read memorials of Northwestern community members submitted by their family or peers. Visit In Memoriam to read featured obituaries of Northwestern alumni, faculty and staff. Please send obituaries to email@example.com.
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Robert C. Petrof ’60, ’62 MS, ’65 PhD, Farmington Hills, Mich., June 29, 2023. A longtime principal research engineer at Ford Motor Company, Robert was the recipient of the Ford Innovator Award. His passion for creating and fostering innovation began in childhood and included helping to build a greenhouse with recycled farm equipment and modifying cars to assist the disabled. His intellectual drive was matched and encouraged by Northwestern throughout his academic career. He worked at Ford Motor Company from after graduation until retirement. At Ford, he developed technology to better detect machine tool failure, established patents and made improvements to safety equipment. His contributions would go on to save countless lives. Robert is survived by his wife, Kathryn; children, Charles, Margaret and Jane; sister, Mary Ellen Thomas; grandchildren, Sophia, Gwendolyn, Anna and Rebecca; and many loving relatives and friends. To honor his memory, please read your car’s owner’s manual. As he would say, it is one of the only detailed instruction guides you get in life.
Photo Credit: Jane Petrof
James Charles Barggren ’61, a successful entrepreneur and lover of vintage cars and boats, passed away on March 4, 2023, at the age of 84. Born on September 17, 1938, in Chicago, Jim was the third child of Elnore and Edwin Barggren. He grew up on Lenox Avenue with his siblings, Joan and Dick. Jim graduated from Loyola Academy and Northwestern University, where he studied psychology, and did graduate study at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jim's career began in corporate life as an interior designer. He later ventured into entrepreneurship with his father, and his focus on historic hotels and unique inns spanned nearly 30 years.
Jim had a passion for vintage cars and boats and he considered himself a connoisseur of the well-done hamburger.
Jim will be remembered as intelligent, funny and proud of his Irish heritage. He shared deep and loving bonds with many friends. Jim is survived by nieces and nephews, as well as their children.
James R. “Jimmy” Nelson ’62, died Feb. 6, 2023.
Ira Berkow ’64 MS offered this remembrance:
“Jimmy and I were dear friends from the time we were 10 or 11 years old, went to Bryant Grammar School together, and lived about a block apart on the West Side of Chicago. We shared a love for sports, particularly baseball and basketball. I was a semester ahead of Jimmy, and we competed against each other in the annual end-of-semester softball game; the 8th-grade graduating seniors, of which I was one, and the patrol boys, of which Jimmy was an officer. We played shortstop against each other in that game. The result has been lost in history — which, to be sure, is no loss to history, other than that Jimmy was, no surprise, the star of the game.
“Jimmy and I were also teammates on the Pony League team named the Tigers in the West Side Lexon Boys League, for 13- and 14-year-olds. We won the championship, due primarily to shortstop Nelson (I played a rather forgettable third base and first base). My most endearing memory of that time was an event that took place shortly before the season began. The Lexon League was brand new then and in a practice session. One of the coaches held an empty water bucket and asked Jimmy to go to the nearby fire hydrant and fill the bucket with water. Jimmy did not take the bucket. ‘I’m a ball player,’ said the 13-year-old Nelson, ‘not a water boy. Sorry, you’ll have to get somebody else.’
“I moved with my family to the North Side while Jimmy’s family stayed on the West Side, with me going to Sullivan High School and he to Farragut. We lost touch for a while, but I would check the basketball box scores to keep up with Jimmy in that area and felt a sense of pride when I saw his photograph among boys that were honored with all-Chicago public league high school baseball honors, one of about 20 athletes out of the hundreds and hundreds who played (including me) on the 42 Chicago public-league baseball teams. He was also an outstanding football and basketball player at Farragut. He was also a devoted golfer, and in grade school he and his father, also a fine man with a driver and putter, took me to play with them at Columbus Park. I was a novice and dug holes in the fairway, as they quietly patted over the holes before moving to the next tee. When Jimmy had time for schoolwork I’m not sure, but Northwestern, one of the top academic colleges in the country, offered him a scholarship.
“I followed Jimmy as best I could when he played shortstop and captained Northwestern’s baseball team, making an all-Big Ten team, and in 1961 was one of the league’s premier hitters. As I recall, a highlight of Jimmy’s baseball career at Northwestern was when he stole home against Notre Dame for a 1-0 Wildcats win.
“Upon graduation, Jimmy signed with the Minnesota Twins and played one year for them in the minor leagues, did not sparkle and then was cut. For whatever reason, Jimmy believed his playing days were over and went on to become a school principal in the Chicago area, where I visited him.
“We stayed in touch for the rest of our lives, though we never crossed paths in either Santee, S.C., or New York City, our residences. Our phone calls and correspondence were filled with reminiscences, laughter, personal and familial thoughts and, invariably, the joys of life. As it was clear to me, he was a loving husband to Diane, his loving wife, and was a great dad and granddad. And the sweetest and loyalist of friends. We spoke by phone a few days before his passing. He said, ‘I love you, Ira,’ and I responded, ‘Jimmy, I love you, too.’ And meant it with all my heart.”
Ira Berkow ’64 MS, charter member, Medill Hall of Achievement, 1997; former sports columnist, The New York Times
New York City
Arturo Evening '06, formerly Arturo Menchaca, passed away on January 10th, 2023, at the age of 38. He was an artist and musician specializing in vocal and electronic music production who engineered, taught and performed under various monikers, including Rainbo Video, Æ, Gradients, Cool Dreams and The Spectral Gate. He is survived by his father, Dr. Arturo Menchaca, his mother, Ixtaccihuatl and his sister Ixtaccihuatl Julieta, as well as aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. Arturo was raised in Chicago, Ill., where he attended St. Ignatius College Prep before studying radio/television/film and earning a bachelor’s degree in communication from Northwestern. Arturo was an active member of both schools’ arts, music and film communities, and he explored a deep interest in experimental, subversive and structural multimedia works, perhaps best embodied by the event series he assembled in spring 2006 for the Block Museum's student-programmed campus cinema called A Cinema of Physics and Perception, featuring an impressive speaker roster of notable media scholars and thoughtfully curated weekly screenings. He was happy to be the third generation of musicians from maternal and paternal sides of the family, and also created works in modalities such as photography, collage, video, poetry and installations. Arturo was an avid sports fan who tracked various professional Chicago teams and was a valued member of the Chelsea FC fan community. Many of Arturo's friends and contemporaries have admired and learned from the breadth of his knowledge in these and other areas of personal interest, which were extensive and reliably mined for deeper layers of meaning. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The People's Music School where he served on the associate board and enthusiastically advocated for children's educational programs focused on electronic music production.
Vicki Bloye Gainsburg '55 passed away on January 2, 2023. She spent her childhood in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in philosophy from Radcliffe College, but her lifelong career was art. For eight decades, Vicki painted and drew botanica, landscapes and portraits, in media that included watercolor, pen and ink and pastels. Her work has been exhibited and sold at numerous galleries and juried shows, and dozens of her pieces are privately owned. Vicki’s paintings have received many awards, including an Award of Merit at the International Exhibition of the American Society of Botanical Artists in New York City. Vicki was a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists and the New Jersey Watercolor Society, among other organizations. Beyond her art, Vicki enjoyed reading, walking, swimming and chocolate. Vicki lived most of her life in South Orange, N.J., and spent her final years in Rochester, N.Y. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Roy Gainsburg; her daughters, Julie and Jeannie; and her grandchildren, Hayden and Becca.
Linda Arlene Maxwell Paulson ’69 passed away on December 5, 2022, at home in Green Valley, California, just five months after she had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.
After graduating from Northwestern with a BA in History in 1969, Linda began a master’s program at Boston University. On June 20, 1970, Linda married David Paulson who had also graduated from Northwestern with a BA in Sociology in 1969.
In the summer of 1970 Linda fulfilled a dream, one she had held since kindergarten, and became a teacher. She received her Ed.M. degree in Pupil Personnel Services from Boston University in June 1973. Between 1970 and 2009, she taught at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Massachusetts, Armijo High School in Fairfield, California, and at Crystal Middle School in Suisun City, California. She was selected as the Armijo High School “Teacher of the Year” for 1981, and the Crystal Middle School “Teacher of the Year” for 2003.
Linda and Dave lived in Napa from March 1973 until March 1993, when Dave was appointed District Attorney of Solano County. They have lived in Solano County since then.
Linda retired from teaching in June 2009, and in early 2010, she and Dave adopted Cooper, a Malagasy Coton de Tulear. Linda spent almost a year socializing and training him, and by early 2011, Cooper began working with Linda as the “reading buddy dog” at the Suisun Library. They were there almost every Wednesday afternoon until the library closed due to Covid in 2020. Over those nine years, hundreds of children read to Cooper, and many came back years later just to visit him. It was always a joy for Linda to see Cooper light up when he recognized a young adult who had read to him as a child years before.
Beginning in 2009, Linda and Dave began what they fondly called their “Disney Decade.” This included being founding members of the Walt Disney Family Museum on the Presidio in San Francisco, becoming the museum’s first Walt’s Circle members, and continuing to provide financial support to the museum.
Linda is survived by her husband of 52 years, Dave, son Brian, and his wife, Claire and grandchildren Sven and Margot, of Sun Valley, Idaho, and daughter, Karen and her husband, Daniel Gullberg, of Lund, Sweden.
Heaven welcomed a funny angel on October 7, 2022, when William “Bink” Sheldrick Conover II '50 passed away peacefully at the age of 94. Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1928, Bink received his bachelor of science degree from Northwestern University in 1950. Bink was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, and met the love of his life Nancy Toel as cast members of the acclaimed Waa-Mu Show. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy. Bink’s civic-minded service continued, along with an interest in politics, with his school board position for Upper St. Clair Township in Pennsylvania. In April of 1972, he was elected to the 92nd Congress of the United States, and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania’s 27th congressional district. Congressman Conover truly loved his country.
Bink’s career in the insurance business moved him from San Francisco in the late 1950’s to Pittsburgh, Penn., a city he came to love. In Pittsburgh, Bink started his own insurance agency, Conover & Associates, Inc., and was the owner and president for more than 50 years.
Dad liked golfing and bowling, playing bridge, cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers, traveling the world, and summer’s corn on the cob. Most of all, Dad/Uncle Bink/Papa enjoyed family, and instilled the value of family love and loyalty by hosting annual family reunions. In creating the unconditional and loving bonds of family, his reach positively exceeded his grasp. In addition, Dad/Papa instilled the value of education by supporting his children and grandchildren in pursuing their college education. His legacy will live on.
Mr. Conover is survived by his wife (Shirley Conover), four children, twelve grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Dad was preceded in death by his first wife and mother of his children (Nancy Toel Conover), second wife (Jane Dolan Conover), and one child (Susan Limerick Conover).