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Dr. David DeLaura, English

Dr. David J. DeLaura, Avalon Foundation Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, died on April 9. Dr. DeLaura was 74 years old. He died of a heart attack while on holiday in Portugal with Ann, his wife of 44 years.

Dr. DeLaura received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, and taught for over a decade at the University of Texas, Austin. He came to Penn in 1974 and retired in 1999. His scholarly distinctions included fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

In a scholarly career that spanned more than 40 years, Dr. DeLaura published a number of books and articles on such major figures as Matthew Arnold, John Henry Newman, John Ruskin and the Brownings. His research had a major influence on the field of English Victorian literature and culture. His essay, “Arnold and Carlyle,” won the first William Riley Parker Prize of the Modern Language Association for an outstanding article. In 1998, he won the Ira Abrams Award, the highest teaching prize conferred by the School of Arts and Sciences (Almanac April 14, 1998). He also received the Mortarboard Award for teaching.

Dr. DeLaura was eloquent in affirming the centrality of the humanities in American education. Among other regional and national assignments, he served from 1976 to 1979 on the Executive Committee of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the major professional organization in his field. At Penn, Dr. DeLaura served with distinction as chair of the English department, and as University Ombudsman from 1993-1997.

A long-time colleague, English professor and Interim Provost Peter Conn, said: “All of us who were privileged to know and love him understood that David was among the most generous, compassionate, and loyal persons we have ever encountered. His range of knowledge was breathtaking, and his scholarship was a model of the most exacting standards and practice. His teaching touched hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. As department chair and Ombudsman, his patience proved limitless, and his capacity to come to our aid in times of need had no boundaries.”

Professor Emeritus of English Robert Lucid also commented on Dr. DeLaura’s gift for friendship: “David was perhaps more interested and open with other people than any academician I ever knew. His friendliness was so irrepressible that he automatically fell into conversation with anyone standing next to him in line or sitting with him on planes, trains or buses, especially if he perceived the person to be in need of any sort.”

Along with his wife, Ann, Dr. DeLaura is survived by two sons, Michael and William; one daughter, Catherine; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the University in the fall.

Dr. Maurice Hilleman, Pediatrics

Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, vaccine pioneer and adjunct professor of virology and pediatrics at Penn’s School of Medicine, died on April 11 at the age of 85.

Born August 30, 1919 in Montana, Dr. Hilleman received his bachelor’s from Montana State University in 1941 and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Chicago in 1944. After receiving his degree, he joined E. R. Squibb & Sons, where he developed a vaccine against Japanese B encephalitis to protect American troops in the World War II Pacific offensive. In 1948, he accepted a position as chief of the department of respiratory diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., which he held for nine years.

In 1957, Dr. Hilleman accepted a position at Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, where he pioneered the development of numerous vaccines for diseases including measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, Marek’s disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, adenoviruses and the evolution of vaccines against meningitis and pneumonia.

In 1968, he was awarded an adjunct professorship of virology and pediatrics at Penn’s School of Medicine, a post he held until his death. Last month, Penn and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with the Merck Co. Foundation, announced the creation of the Maurice R. Hilleman endowed chair in vaccinology. 

Paul A. Offit, chief of infectious diseases at CHOP, said of Dr. Hilleman, “It’s safe to say that his vaccines save in the order of eight million lives a year…I think it can be said without hyperbole that he was a scientist who saved more lives than any other modern scientist.”

 Dr. Hilleman is survived by wife, Lorraine; two daughters, Jeryl Lynn and Kirsten; and five grandchildren.

Contributions may be sent to Children’s Hospital Foundation, 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Donations should specify the Vaccine Education Fund in memory of Maurice Hilleman. 

Neil Welliver, Fine Arts

Professor Neil Welliver, emeritus professor of fine arts and one of the leading American landscape painters of his generation, died on April 5 of pneumonia. He was 75 years old.

Mr. Welliver was born in 1929 in Millville, PA. In 1953, he earned his B.F.A. at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now part of the University of the Arts), and went on to teach at Cooper Union in New York while working on his M.F.A. at the Yale School of Art, where he received his degree in 1955. Mr. Welliver taught at Yale for ten years before accepting a position at Penn as chairman of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, now known as the School of Design. Though he was a resident of Maine from 1970 until his death, he held this position at Penn until 1990, when he reached emeritus status.

 He created the Inaugural Banner in 1981 for President Sheldon Hackney’s inauguration (Almanac October 19, 2004) and in 2003, his collection of small oils were part the 20 Years of  Arthur Ross Gallery Exhibit (Almanac February 18, 2003).

Mr. Welliver had his first solo exhibition in 1954 at the Alexandra Grotto in Philadelphia and his first solo show in New York’s Stable Gallery in 1962. Throughout his career, his paintings have been displayed in major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. His most recent exhibition appeared in the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York in 2000.

Mr. Welliver was best known for his representations of the landscape around his home in Lincolnville, Maine. Typically, he would paint outdoor studies of trees, grass, snow, rocks and streams with generous, paint-loaded brushstrokes. He favored intimate, dark enclosures over sunlit landscapes.

Mr. Welliver was heralded for combining two seemingly contradictory styles: abstract expressionism and pure, straightforward representation. “Welliver’s huge paintings of the Maine woods are among the strongest images in modern American art,” wrote critic Robert Hughes in Time magazine. “[His paintings] contain an emotional intensity that goes beyond the ordinary limits of realism.”

Mr. Welliver is survived by wife, Mimi Martin Welliver; three sons, Titus, Ethan and John; and two grandchildren.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 29, April 19, 2005


April 19, 2005
Volume 51 Number 29


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