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Remembrances

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 alums@northwestern.edu.

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Henry "Hank" Stephen Bangser

Henry “Hank” Stephen Bangser ’71 MS, ’77 PhD passed away on March 12, 2024. He is survived by his beloved wife, Sara; their three children, Jill Fioravanti (Marc), Marc (Gina), and Matt (Abby); and their seven grandchildren, ages 4 to 15 (Albert, Simon, Camilla, Jackson, Penelope, Elyse, and Margo). Sara, Jill, Marc, Matt, their spouses and their children will always remember the vibrance and warmth of “Grandpa Hank” and strive to exemplify his character and values.

Hank grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., and graduated from Mamaroneck High School in 1966. He received a bachelor of arts in economics from Williams College in 1970, a master of arts in teaching from Northwestern in 1971 and a PhD in educational leadership and administration from Northwestern in 1977. His educational career began at New Trier East High School in Winnetka, Ill., and spanned nearly five decades, including classroom teaching, educational leadership positions and superintendencies in six public school districts across New York, Illinois and California. Perhaps most noteworthy were his more than 20 years spent with New Trier High School District 203, where he worked first as a social studies teacher and assistant principal, and then returned to serve for 16 years as superintendent. Hank was inducted into the Mamaroneck High School Hall of Fame in 1999, and upon his retirement from New Trier in 2006, the administration building at the Northfield Campus was renamed the Henry S. Bangser Administration Building.

Hank’s legacy touched thousands of teachers, administrators, staff and students. One current superintendent said, “Hank was the single most important influence in my professional career, and there’s no way I would be where I am now without his guidance and support. The world just lost an incredible man.” A longtime former assistant for Hank added, “My heart is broken right now. Hank was just such an unbelievable person to me, professionally and personally — he will never know just how many people he has impacted along the way.”

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Hank reveled in playing, discussing and watching sports. He played varsity football and baseball in high school and collegiate football at Williams College, and coached New Trier football. For his entire adult life he was an avid golfer who carried a single-digit handicap, using his exceptional short game and silky-smooth putting stroke to tame some of the most challenging courses from coast to coast. 

Hank and Sara celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in April 2023, surrounded by family in a wonderful celebration of their milestone. He was immensely proud of his children and beamed whenever he talked about his grandchildren, and he went out of his way to attend soccer games, dance recitals and band and orchestra concerts, and loved every video and picture sent his way. “Grandpa Hank” fit him perfectly.

Hank will be dearly missed by all who had the good fortune to know him throughout his almost 75 years, and his family knows that the many memories shared with Hank will resonate for years and generations to come.

A graveside service took place on Monday, March 18, 2024, at Ridge Lawn Cemetery, 5736 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60646.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (Georgia chapter), 57 Executive Park South, Suite 380, Atlanta, GA 30329 (please put “Henry Bangser” in memo line) or donated electronically (please choose the Georgia chapter and name Henry Bangser in the “In Honor / In Memory” section on that page).

Paul Nicholas "Nick" Pitz

Paul Nicholas “Nick” Pitz ’71 MA of Bettendorf, Iowa, born Feb. 2, 1947, in Indianapolis, died on Nov. 24, 2023.

Nick graduated in 1964 from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, where he placed first in an Exercise in Knowledge competition. He graduated from Wabash College in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in German and English after having studied abroad his junior year at the Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany.

After graduation, Nick entered the U.S. Army and ultimately served in a military position in Worms, Germany. After his discharge, he earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University and finished coursework and the qualifying exam for the PhD program. He met the love of his life, Barbara Waters, in August 1973, and they were married a year to the day after they met. A month later, they moved to Toronto and eventually to the Iowa Quad Cities. In the meantime, they welcomed daughter Megan and son Andrew.

In Toronto Nick discovered his love of teaching and was convinced that his most enduring and natural contribution to education would be as a high school teacher. He earned a teaching degree at the University of Toronto and spent the next 11 years teaching at high schools in and near Toronto as well as teaching Saturday German language classes. Nick also spent several years teaching skiing as a Canadian Level II instructor in Canada and Iowa and coached high school basketball in Canada.

Over the course of his more than 40-year teaching career, Nick was perhaps best known and loved for his 23 years at Moline High School, where he accompanied students to Germany every other year.

After retiring in 2014, he continued to teach part-time at various Quad City high schools until his second retirement in 2021. Never losing his interest in academic competition, he coached the Moline High School scholastic bowl team to the Illinois State Championship in 1999, and then Team Illinois to back-to-back National Championships in 2007 and 2008, eventually being inducted into the Illinois Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

With his outgoing approach to life, Nick became involved at various levels of community affairs, serving on the Board of Directors of the German American Heritage Center, where he was an active volunteer and reading-group discussion leader. He took joy in his Stammtisch friends, who met once a week to speak German over a beer, and he and Barbara spent three weeks during the summer of 2023 driving through Germany.

Nick is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughter, Megan (Jake Viano); son, Andrew (Elora); brothers Mike Pitz (Fay) and John Pitz (Jill); sisters Janeann Pitz (Reinhard Pollach) and Marylynne Pitz (Mark Weitzman); granddaughters Addison Nicole Pitz and Annabelle Rebecca Nicole Viano; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

Virginia Scott Park

Virginia “Ginny” Scott Park ’93, ’98 MBA of Mechanicsville, Va., passed away peacefully on October 24, 2023, at age 52, after a year-long battle with breast cancer that also spread to her brain. Although she left the earth too soon, it was all in God’s perfect timing.

The former Virginia Lorraine Scott was born on February 9, 1971, in Kansas City, Kan., to parents Louis and Shirley Scott. She worked hard to graduate as co-valedictorian from DeSoto High School in 1989, where she was also an all-state flute player and captain of the cheerleading team. She went on to study economics at Northwestern, where she was also a member of the marching band and the Kappa Delta sorority. It was in college where she had a life changing encounter with her Lord and Savior and became part of the University Christian Ministry. She also did a study abroad program at the University of Sussex in England. She subsequently earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in 1998.

Ginny spent most of her professional career at Jones Lang LaSalle, a multi-national real estate consulting firm, where she helped the U.S. military and other public institutions with critical housing needs and enabled public-private partnerships. She rose to the rank of managing director before eventually resigning to be a stay-at-home mom. She missed working with her outstanding and supportive colleagues, who she always considered as part of the family.

Ginny met her husband, Matt Park, at Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, Va. They were married in the same church in March 2007 and went on to have a precious daughter named Vivian. Ginny followed her husband to multiple overseas assignments that included Malaysia, Singapore and Ecuador. She felt blessed to have lived overseas, which was a transformative experience for her.

Ginny loved serving and building relationships in her local churches and getting involved in her daughter’s schools. She was the treasurer on the board of directors of a Christian classical school and served on various local church committees, particularly those that leveraged her finance background. Besides her wanderlust for travel, she loved to read all types of books, was passionate about music education, enjoyed spoiling her family with delicious recipes and made spending quality time with people a priority in her life.

Ginny is survived by her husband, daughter, three siblings, and her father and mother, as well as numerous other extended family members. 

Peggy Walter Smith

Peggy Walter Smith ’69 MS, Sequim, Wash., October 6, 2023, at age 92. 

Born in Virginia, Peggy spent her childhood on military bases, moving frequently. She met her beloved husband, Otis Leroy Walter, while attending Northwestern University as an undergraduate. Together they had four children, and lived in Palo Alto, Calif., before returning to Evanston, where Otis served as Dean of Men at Northwestern until his passing in 1966.  

Peggy went on to receive her master’s degree in education and to work as associate director of admissions at Northwestern, a role she loved and that took her across the country. In 1973 she married Edward Smith, and together they moved to Sequim, Wash. She became very active in the community, serving as a member of the local P.E.O. chapter, supporting educational opportunities for women; a devoted member of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and a supporter of the Port Angeles Symphony. She also owned and operated Foxgloves & Smith, a gift shop in downtown Sequim, a local favorite for more than ten years. 

Peggy will be remembered for her vivacious spirit, compassion, grace and ability to be a shining light in every room. A talented classical pianist, Peggy instilled in her children and grandchildren an appreciation and love for music and dance. Peggy always made the best of every situation, marching through life with strength and perseverance. Even in her final years, her gregarious nature, charm and delightful sense of humor won the hearts of those who cared for her. She adored and loved her family above all else.

She is preceded in death by her son Samuel Walter, and survived by her children Kathryn Walter, Mary Marcial (Narciso) and Joseph Walter (Lisa); five grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; and many dear friends. A memorial will be held in Port Angeles, Wash., in summer 2024.

Robert C. Petrof

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

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

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