Obituaries
— Class of 1981

Send your news to class co-vice president for communications Suzanne Curley, to co–vice president for communications Charles Taylor, or directly to the BAM at alumni_magazine@brown.edu.

Oct, 2021

Afua Hare Hassan ’81, of Houston; Apr. 4, of cancer. She was a prominent midwife in Houston and founder of The Birthing Place. She was profiled in the July-August ’20 BAM article, “Birth Mama.” https://www.brownalumnimagazine.com/articles/2019-07-10/birth-mama.

Jan, 2021

Adam E. Max ’81, of New York City and Telluride, Colo., July 27, of bile duct cancer. At the time of his passing he was chairman of the board of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). He also served as president of the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation and was a trustee of St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Bank Street College of Education, and the Telluride Foundation. In 1986, he joined the Jordan Company, a private equity firm, where he led investments in firms and mentored and fostered the next generation of leaders. A BAM patron for more than 30 years, he joined the board in 2003, becoming co-vice chair in 2008 and chairman in 2017. He was instrumental in BAM’s growth through the construction and opening of two new program spaces, BAM Fisher and BAM Strong. He is survived by his wife, Diane L. Max; three children, including Jonah ’18; and two brothers.

Nov, 2020

Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is the way cells clean and recycle themselves, keeping us healthy. Biomedical scientist Beth Levine ’81 discovered the mammalian autophagy gene beclin 1, now the most studied of such proteins. She went on to study autophagy’s role in suppressing cancer, viruses, and neurogenerative diseases. “I think what was most critical to my success was my willingness to follow my scientific intuition and curiosity and pursue questions that I thought were important,” she told the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


As part of Levine’s mission to bring together scientists from diverse countries and disciplines to link fundamental biology to human health, she created the Gordon Conference on Autophagy in Stress, Development, and Disease in 2003, which still continues. A colleague remembers her as “an amazing scientist…and a true understated supporter of female scientists.”


After earning a medical degree from Weill Medical College of Cornell University, followed by an internal medicine residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Levine was a postdoctoral fellow in infectious diseases and virology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, rising to director of virology research at Columbia University. She was recruited to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2004 and eventually became director of its Center for Autophagy Research and holder of the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science. The university remembers her as “an elegant, driven, and focused researcher who demanded the best from herself and the more than 50 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers she mentored.”


Levine was a founding associate editor of Autophagy and an editorial board member of Cell, which honored her as “an exemplary role model for women in science and medicine, and a caring physician with a lifelong dedication to easing human suffering.” Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, she won awards and honors including the Phyllis T. Bodel Award from Yale and the Barcroft Medal from Queen’s University in Belfast, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s 2014 Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award. 


Levine passed away of cancer in Dallas on June 15. She is survived by her husband Milton Packer, a cardiologist and former professor and chair of the department of clinical sciences at UT Southwestern; a daughter; and a son.

Sep, 2020

Stephen J. DeBlois ’81, of Ballston Spa, N.Y., formerly of Narragansett, R.I; Feb. 25. He was vice president of DeBlois Oil Company for many years and most recently worked as a senior territory sales manager for Citgo Petroleum in the Upstate New York region. He was a family man who enjoyed coaching or spectating at his children’s sporting events, hiking through the mountains of upstate New York, white water rafting, skiing, and playing golf. At Brown he was a member of the hockey team. He is survived by his wife, Diane; his father; four children; three siblings and their spouses; and many nieces and nephews.

Jun, 2020

William E. Cunningham ’81, of Santa Monica, Calif.; Jan. 3. He was a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA. He graduated from UCSF School of Medicine in 1987 and completed his internal medicine residency training at UCLA, where he was selected into the 1991 cohort of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Program and completed a master’s in public health from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health before joining the faculty in both the Schools of Medicine and Public Health. He was a leader in addressing racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities among vulnerable populations living with, or at risk of, HIV. Most recently he was working to improve HIV care for HIV+ men and transgender women released from Los Angeles County Jail. He held several titles, including director of the UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute Summer Fellowship Program, codirector of the Investigator Development Core for the NIA-funded Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research, director of the Training Core for the NIMHD-funded Project Export, and associate director of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson/National Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA. For 15 years he served as a reviewer for the American Journal of Public Health. In addition, he taught graduate level courses on racial disparities and health and led efforts to recruit underrepresented minority trainees to all UCLA educational programs. He was a member of several professional associations and scholarly societies, including the American Medical Association and the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care. He authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and, at the time of his death, was a principal investigator for three research grants. He is survived by his wife, Sharon; and two sons.

 

Jan, 2020

Christopher E. Stenberg ’81, of East Providence; Sept. 14. For many years he was the owner of New England Research Associates, a private investigation firm, and more recently, he was a freelance editor for screenplays. He enjoyed good conversation, reading, trivia, and making lists. He is survived by two daughters, a son, a son-in-law, and his brother Kurt ’83.

 

Jan, 2020

Francis G. Hale IV ’81, of Gulfport, Fla., formerly of Portland, Me.; Aug. 5, after a brief illness. He taught religion and chemistry and coached a state championship soccer team for several years at Bishop Cheverus High School in Portland. He also spent time teaching and coaching in Belize. He had a passion for the theater and received awards for designing sets and lighting for numerous high school and community productions in Maine, as well as in Florida. He also obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. He is survived by five siblings and their spouses, and several nieces and nephews.

 

Jan, 2020

Laura Cutler Aoki ’81, of Fukuoka, Japan; Sept. 29, of ovarian cancer. She moved to Japan in 1983 and taught English at the university level. She was involved with Buddhism and engrossed with Japanese culture. She enjoyed coming to the U.S. nearly every year to catch up with family and friends and eat the American food unavailable to her in Japan. She was an avid reader. She is survived by her husband, Jiro Aoki; her father John H. Cutler ’56 and stepmother; three brothers, including Jeffry Cutler ’86; and two stepsisters.

 

Nov, 2019

Wendy M. Stein ’81, ’83 AM, ’92 MD, of San Diego; May 20. She was a geriatrician in San Diego and licensed to practice medicine in California and Massachusetts. She specialized in hospice and palliative care and is survived by her father and numerous family members.

 

Jan, 2019

Laura R. Clower ’81, of Grinnell, Iowa, formerly of Boston; July 29. She worked as a speech pathologist in the Boston area for 14 years. In 1999 she moved to California and taught private piano lessons. She also played bagpipes with the Cameron Highlanders of San Diego. She was active in a Grinnell local poetry group and the Grinnell Oratorio Society. She is survived by a son; her mother; brother Robert P. Clower III ’83; a sister-in-law; and two nephews.

 

May, 2018

Robert Riger ’81, of New York City; Jan 26, of complications from the flu. A publisher and author, he began his career at Book-of-the-Month Club and left to become president of the Doubleday Book Club. In 1990 he cofounded Market Partners International (MPI), a publishing consulting firm whose clients included Amazon, Jim Henson Productions, and a number of international clients. With Kermit the Frog he coauthored  One Frog Can Make a Difference: Kermit’s Guide to Life in the ’90s. Following MPI, he worked at Penguin Press and Barnes & Noble, then returned to publishing at Simon & Schuster, where he was most recently vice president and director of the Pimsleur Language Programs. At the time of his death he was working with a coauthor on Book Publishing: What Everyone Needs to Know. He was a member of the Mayflower Society and the Publishing Triangle. He enjoyed genealogy and photography. He is survived by his husband, Richard D. Piper ’76 AM; three sisters; two brothers; an aunt; two nieces; and a nephew.

 

Feb, 2018

Andrew M. Tager ’81, of Boston; Aug. 11, of pancreatic cancer. A physician, he served in several positions, including associate physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Fibrosis Research Center. In 2012 he received the Marvin I. Schwarz Research Award in Pulmonary Fibrosis and in 2017 the Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments from the American Thoracic Society. He enjoyed literature, philosophy, public policy, and sports. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and a son.

Feb, 2018

Carmen Scism Slaughter ’81, of Albany, N.Y.; Sept. 20. After graduation, she joined the U.S. Army. She later worked for the State of New York in various departments, most recently as a senior administrative analyst for the Dept. of Finance in Albany. She enjoyed reading, traveling, and photography. She is survived by her husband, Michael; a son; her mother; three siblings; and nieces and nephews.

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