Obituaries for October 2012
Sung C. Choi
Sung C. Choi, 81, passed away on July 21, 2012.
Born in South Korea, Choi came to the United States for his education, earning a BS in mathematics and an MA in statistics from the University of Washington. He went on to earn a PhD in biostatistics from UCLA in 1966. He was supported by a predoctoral fellowship in biometry from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Choi began a career in academia in the department of applied mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He served as chair of the program in statistics from 1969–1974 in the school of engineering and applied sciences and, in 1978, moved to Richmond, Virginia, to join the department of biostatistics in the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as a professor. In 1989, he was given a joint appointment as professor in the Division of Neurosurgery at MCV/VCU. He served as the primary adviser for two postdoctoral trainees, seven doctoral students, and four MS students over the course of his career.
Choi was a prolific writer, having published two books, three book chapters, five government publications, and more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. His methodological research focused on design and statistical issues related to clinical studies of severe head injury, including misclassification of primary outcome measures, interim analyses with delayed observations, and sequential methods of estimation. He was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, served as a referee for many biomedical and statistical journals, reviewed grants for the NIH, and served as a consultant for multiple pharmaceutical companies and health sciences centers.
Harold Young, professor and chair of neurosurgery at VCU, described Choi as “a great partner of the original head injury program” at VCU and an “indispensible part of the team.” For more than two decades, Choi was the principal investigator of the Head Injury Biostatistics Center, which supported the clinical research conducted by the Head Injury Clinical Research Center at MCV, a NIH-sponsored center.
Choi’s colleagues remember him as a quiet, unassuming, and modest person, as well as a “solid citizen” in the department, willing to serve as needed. His humor and encouragement to students and faculty will be missed. His family noted that the department of biostatistics at VCU was an important part of his life, as were the colleagues, staff, and students with whom he had the pleasure of working during his 25 years there.
Lester R. “Randy” Curtin
Lester R. “Randy” Curtin, who worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, died June 20 at his home in Huntingtown, Maryland. He was 60.
Curtin joined the National Center for Health Statistics in the late 1970s. He was an expert on survey design and his methodologies helped improve health statistics’ accuracy. He worked for many years in the Mortality Statistics Branch and helped compile data that enhanced the detection of changes in mortality trends. He also helped design health surveys and studies.
Curtin was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He was a 1973 mathematics graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a doctorate in biostatistics from UNC in 1978.
John S. de Cani
John S. de Cani passed away on August 8, 2012, in New York City. Born on May 8, 1924, in Canton, Ohio, he spent most of his life as a member of the statistics department of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and served as department chair from 1971 to 1978. The breadth of his scientific work illustrates the possible diversity of a career in statistics. He contributed to general statistical theory, especially the design of experiments; his work also included applications to business, law, the military, anthropology, psychology, economics, education, biology, and medicine. Besides statistics, de Cani contributed to econometrics, operations research, and mathematical programming.
He was active in civil liberties, testifying as an expert witness in racial discrimination in employment litigation. He risked his life to testify about the statistical significance of racial discrimination in jury selection in the South. He also collaborated with biologists and pharmaceutical companies in the design of clinical trials for medical research.
de Cani’s other interests were many and varied. He was active in university administration and politics and supervised many PhD student dissertations. He loved listening to classical music, particularly Beethoven quartets, and spent many pleasant hours after work over drinks with colleagues and other friends. These get-togethers were often held at the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Club, where he served as president.
He was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1978. He was also the recipient of the Lindback Foundation and Sigma Kappa Phi awards for distinguished teaching. de Cani was a Fulbright scholar at the Norwegian School of Economics. During World War II, he completed 38 missions as a radio operator on B-24 bombers as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. After the war, he earned a BS in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, followed by MBA and PhD degrees in statistics from the Wharton School. He is survived by his beloved partner, Joanna Williams, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Bob Hodges died on January 26, 2012, in Seneca, South Carolina, of congestive heart failure. Born on February 21, 1933, he served in the United States Army Reserve and began college at Georgia Institute of Technology, ultimately completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Georgia State University. He earned a PhD in marketing, statistics, and psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Hodges spent most of his adulthood in Richmond, Virginia, teaching business statistics and marketing at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Christopher Newport University, and The George Washington University while also running Hodges & Associates, a marketing research firm.
A lifelong technology enthusiast, Hodges programmed mainframes, flew airplanes, owned early versions of laptop computers and mobile phones, and took pride in writing his own marketing software applications. An avid cook and traveler, he was active in the Presbyterian church and YMCA. A loving friend, father, and partner, he is survived by his wife, Marlane Fairleigh Hodges.
Steve Samuels passed away July 26, 2012, after a long battle with lung cancer. Emeritus professor at Purdue University, Samuels was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up on Long Island. He completed his undergraduate work at MIT and earned his PhD from Stanford. He joined the Purdue faculty in 1963 as one of the original members of the department of statistics. Samuels headed many important committees both at Purdue and in the broader statistical community, including the Statistics in Sports Section of the ASA. Samuels retired in 2003. Read more about his life here.