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Obituaries for December 2009

1 December 2009 1,141 views No Comment


Irene Hess

Irene Hess, 98, a survey statistician who trained graduate students in the details of sampling at the Institute for Social Research died July 5 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Hess was born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Her father was a mining engineer in Central City. Her mother, who graduated from Valparaiso College with her father, worked at home. After graduating from Indiana University, Hess returned to Central City to teach math and English at the local junior high school from 1932 to 1942. In 1940, she went to work with Leslie Kish at the Survey Research Center.

Hess was an active member of the American Statistical Association. She was the first chair of the Section on Survey Research Methods and attended many JSMs.

During her career, Hess published numerous articles, including two monographs: “Sampling for Social Research Surveys 1947–1980” and “Controlled Selection Continued.” Her latest publication, “The Practice of Survey Research at the Survey Research Center,” was completed in the fall of 2007.

To read more about Hess’s life, visit the ASA’s Statisticians in History page.

Stephen Lagakos

Stephen Lagakos, professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), died in a car accident on October 12 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He was 63 years old. His wife, Regina, and his mother, Helen, also were killed in the daytime accident, along with the driver of the other car.

“Our School community is deeply saddened by this unexpected and tragic loss of Professor Steve Lagakos,” said Julio Frenk, HSPH dean and T & G Angelopoulos professor of public health and international development. “Having joined our faculty more than three decades ago, Steve was a prominent and respected professor, cherished by those who had the benefit of working with him and learning from him. His seminal contributions to the field of AIDS research helped provide crucial statistical foundations upon which we could better combat this terrible disease. The complexity of the analyses required to understand HIV/AIDS and its treatment presented enormous statistical challenges, which Steve pursued tirelessly.”

Lagakos was chair of the HSPH Department of Biostatistics from 1999 to 2006, during which time the department investigated infectious diseases, psychiatric statistics, environmental statistics, and statistical genetics. Observed current chair, Victor De Gruttola, in an email to HSPH community members: “Steve Lagakos played a central leadership role in our department, in the school, and among the international community of quantitative biomedical researchers. His loss and that of his wife, Regina, and mother, Helen, is a terrible one for all of us. Steve’s qualities of commitment, passion, intellectual brilliance, and personal generosity had a direct personal impact on our lives, and his contributions to biostatistics and to AIDS research were fundamental.

Lagakos served on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Foundation for AIDS Research and was a participant in a World Health Organization (WHO) consultation on neuropsychiatric aspects of HIV infection. From 1982 to 1987, he was co-director of WHO’s Collaborating Center for Cancer Biostatistics Evaluation. He worked on several committees and panels of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as statistical consultant to The New England Journal of Medicine for more than a decade.

Lagakos was a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Statistical Association. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2006. He received the Spiegelman Gold Medal Award from the American Public Health Association in 1983 and a citation for outstanding teaching from HSPH in the years 1985 to 1988.

Harvey Bennett Lipman

Harvey Bennett Lipman, age 57, died August 30 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lipman earned his bachelor’s in mathematics from Knox College and his PhD in statistics from Oregon State University. For more than 17 years, he worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Society and the American Statistical Association.

Lipman played soccer in high school and college and continued to pursue his love of the game by becoming a referee and teacher. He volunteered at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, performed in plays, sang in choral groups, and played the cello. For many years, he was a soloist at various synagogues.

Lipman is survived by his wife of 21 years, Camellia Jane; his mother, Joy; sister, Sarah; and his brothers, Marc and Mayer.

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