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April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30

Ms. Beshunsky, Athletics
Dr. Cass, Economics
Mr. Schmeidler, Wharton
Memorial: Mr. van Merkensteijn

Ms. Beshunsky, Athletics


Doris Dannenhirsch Beshunsky, former coach of the Pennguinettes, died March 30 at age 92.

As a student at Penn, Ms. Beshunsky organized a synchronized swimming team in 1946 with just eight female students who swam once a year to entertain visitors to campus on High School Day. In 1953, it became an official athletic society under the Women’s Physical Education Department and the Women’s Athletic Association.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education in 1947 and 1948, respectively. She remained at Penn following graduation, serving as an instructor in the physical education department and later as coach of the Pennguinettes. She retired in 1977.

In 1989, Ms. Beshunsky was inducted as an honorary friar in the Friars Senior Society of the University of Pennsylvania and in 2001, she was inducted to Penn’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Her other accomplishments included being a member in the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Swimming Hall of Fame, and the first woman inductee in the Rhode Island Jewish Athletic Hall of Fame. Between 1955 and 1961, she was a member of the Philadelphia Board of Women’s Swimming Officials.

Ms. Beshunsky is survived by her husband, Sidney; children, Etta Miller, Stanley Bush, and David Beshunsky; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Contributions in her memory may be made to The USA Committee, Sports for Israel, 1926 Arch St., #4R, Philadelphia, PA 19103.


Dr. Cass, Economics


Dr. David Cass, Paul F. and E. Warren Shafer Miller Professor of Economics, died April 15 at age 71.

Before coming to Penn, Dr. Cass was a member of the economics department and the Cowles Foundation at Yale University from 1965 to 1970, and also served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University from 1970 to 1974. He had been at Penn since 1974, and was named the Paul F. and E. Warren Shafer Miller Professor of Economics in 1988. He also was a visiting scholar at numerous organizations and universities in Europe, including the University of Geneva where he received an honorary doctorate in economic science in 1994.

He made singular contributions to economic theory, including the introduction of the “Cass-Koopmans” growth model, and the discovery of the “Cass” criterion for Pareto efficiency in overlapping generations models. With Karl Shell, he discovered the importance of extrinsic uncertainty (sunspots) in economic dynamics. His work with many coauthors on incomplete financial markets was extremely influential.

Dr. Cass received many honors for his accomplishments. Most significantly, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 1999 and elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.

Dr. Cass served as editor for numerous economic journals. At the time of his death, he was serving as the director of CARESS (Center for Analytic Research in Economics and the Social Sciences). He had spent much of the spring organizing the 4th Annual CARESS-Cowles Conference on Equilibrium Theory and Its Applications, which was held at Penn this past weekend. “After much soul searching, the remaining organizers decided that Dave would have wanted to the conference to go on,” said Dr. George J. Mailath, chair of the economics department.

Dr. Cass authored the book, The Hamiltonian Approach to Economic Dynamics along with publishing numerous articles.

Dr. Cass earned an AB in economics from the University of Oregon in 1958 and a PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1965.

Dr. Cass is survived by his children, Lisa and Stephen.

The economics department is establishing a fund in memory of Dr. Cass  to benefit  graduate education. There will be an event next fall to celebrate his contributions and accomplishments. Details will be posted on his department’s webpage and published in Almanac, when arrangements have been made.

Mr. Schmeidler, Wharton


Peter Schmeidler, senior fellow at the Wharton Risk Management & Decision Processes Center, died April 14 of pancreatic cancer at the age 70.  

He was with the Wharton Risk Center since 2001 and played an active role in research on the role of ISO 14001 in reducing and managing environmental risks and the role of third party inspections for improving food safety. Mr. Schmeidler was also the editor of the Wharton Risk Management Review, the Risk Center newsletter. He was retired from the Rohm and Haas Company after 40 years of service.

He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Columbia in 1959 and 1961, respectively. He also obtained an MBA from Rutgers University, Camden in 1982. He has been an industrial consultant to the chemical engineering department’s senior class design project since 1977.

Mr. Schmeidler is survived by his wife, Lois;   children, David, Debra, Susan and Karen; and three grandchildren.

Donations can be made to Temple Sinai, 2101 New Albany Road, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.


Memorial: Mr. van Merkensteijn

A memorial service will be held Friday, May 9 for Eric van Merkensteijn (Almanac , February 26, 2008) lecturer for the Center for Organizational Dynamics, who passed away February 14, at age 61. The service is from 3-4 p.m. in the Sweeten Alumni Center. All members of the University community are welcome.

To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.

Almanac - April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30