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March 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 25

Dr. Brobeck, Physiology


Dr. John R. Brobeck, professor emeritus of physiology in the School of Medicine, passed away March 6; he was 94.

Dr. Brobeck chaired the department of physiology from 1952 to 1970 and was a professor until 1982. He was named the Herbert C. Rorer Professor in the Medical Sciences in 1970. As Penn’s judicial administrator from 1989 to 1993, he oversaw the resolution of the “Water Buffalo” incident. He was also president of the Faculty Club (now the University Club at Penn) from 1969 to 1971.

Prior to coming to Penn, Dr. Brobeck served on the medical faculty at Yale University, where he earned his medical degree in 1943. He received a BS from Wheaton College in 1936; and from Northwestern University an MS in 1937 followed by a PhD in neuroanatomy in 1939.

He was the chairman of the editorial board of the journal Physiological Reviews from 1963 to 1972. He held memberships in the American Physiological Society, of which he was once president, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Science, and had been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Brobeck is survived by his daughters, Elisabeth Thompson and Priscilla; sons, Stephen and John T.; five grandchildren; and a sister.
Memorial donations may be made to the church organ fund at the Aldan Union Church, 7 E. Providence Rd., Aldan, PA 19018.


Dr. Castetter, GSE


Dr. William B. Castetter, professor emeritus of education, passed away February 23; he was 94.

Dr. Castetter received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in 1936 and his master’s degree in education administration there in 1937. He earned his doctorate from Penn in 1948. That same year he was appointed to the faculty as assistant professor of education in the Graduate School of Education.

During his tenure at Penn, Dr. Castetter had served as director of the Center for Field Studies from 1960 until his retirement. He was acting dean of GSE twice (1967-68 and 1974-75). He had been a consultant to the Education Department of Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He also held an appointment in CGS (now the College of Liberal and Professional Studies). He became emeritus in 1980 and retired that same year.

In 1974, GSE honored Dr. Castetter with the Helen C. Bailey Alumni Award of Distinction for significant service to the School.

Dr. Castetter is survived by his nephew.

A memorial is planned for sometime in May at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Wayne, PA.

Memorial donations may be made to the The William B. and Roberta V. Castetter Endowed Fellowship Fund at GSE, University of Pennsylvania, 3700 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Dr. Hires, President's Office

Dr. William L. Hires, former assistant to the late President Emeritus Gaylord Harnwell, passed away February 14; he was 90.

Initially, Dr. Hires was the assistant to the dean of admissions from 1952 to 1955. After working in the Chester County school system for a few years, he returned to Penn in 1961 as an assistant to the president and then to the secretary of the University. He left Penn in 1964.

Dr. Hires earned his doctorate in psychology from Penn in 1972, after which he conducted a psychological practice.

In addition, he held academic positions for the Chester County and Upper Darby school districts. In 1986, he retired from his position of academic dean at the Curtis Institute of Music, but worked part-time as a park ranger at Independence Hall and the Edgar Allen Poe House until 2005.

Dr. Hires is survived by his wife, Karen; daughter, Jennifer; stepsons, Frank and Keith Perrott; stepdaughter, Lisa Perrott; three step-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Dr. Reiner, Regional Science

Dr. Thomas A. Reiner, professor emeritus of regional science in the School of Arts and Sciences, died of leukemia on March 3; he was 77.

Dr. Reiner spent his entire academic career at Penn. He was appointed to the faculty in 1963 as an assistant professor in regional science after receiving his doctoral degree from Penn that same year. He held secondary appointments in the departments of city and regional planning in the School of Design and organizational dynamics in the School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Reiner also directed the Urban Studies Program in the mid-1980s. He retired in 1993 as professor emeritus of regional science and in 1998 became professor emeritus of organizational dynamics. He continued to advise students at Penn until a few months ago.

As an advocate for comprehensive social/economic/physical planning, Dr. Reiner organized regional and metropolitan planning initiatives, created training programs and academic graduate courses, and served as a consultant to governmental and nonprofit organizations.
Born in Czechoslovakia, he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Swarthmore College in 1952 and his master’s in city and regional planning from MIT in 1955.

Dr. Reiner is survived by his wife, Susan; children, Salem and Lisa Reiner; grandchildren, Daniel Sotelo-Reiner, Eleanor and Abigail Reiner; stepchildren, Jessica and Seth Lieberman; and brother, Martin. 

Memorial donations may be made to American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004 and to Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, 2109 Broadway-Suite 203, New York, NY 10023-2106.

Dr. Schnabel, Medicine


Dr. Truman G. Schnabel Jr., C. Mahlon Kline Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Medicine, passed away March 10 at age 90.

Dr. Schnabel was a third generation graduate of Penn’s School of Medicine, earning his MD here in 1943. He earned his BS from Yale.

His father Dr. Truman Schnabel Sr., was a professor in the School of Medicine. Following in the footsteps of this father, Dr. Schnabel Jr. (affectionately known as Dr. Nipper) was appointed to the School of Medicine faculty in 1954 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor only two years later and then promoted to professor in 1963. In addition to teaching, he was assigned to the Philadelphia General Hospital, where he served until the hospital closed in 1977, first as ward chief and then as chief of the University service, a position his father also held some years earlier. After over three decades of serving on the faculty, he retired from teaching in 1989 but remained at Penn serving as acting director of the Institute of Aging during the 1990s. He was accorded emeritus status in 1994.

Dr. Schnabel’s honors and awards included being the recipient the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Graduate Award in 1988. Previously, he was named an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1974. He was the 50th president of American College of Physicians, who named him a master in 1975 for his “scholarship, humanistic attitudes, and superb leadership.” The occasional essayist and medical historian, he published numerous articles in medical journals and also co-authored It’s Your Body: Know What the Doctor Ordered—Your Complete Guide to Medical Testing with M. L. Fox in 1979.

Dr. Schnabel is survived by his children, Ann Gignac, Paul Schnabel and Brooke Schnabel; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Contributions may be made to a fund established to honor his father, Truman G. Schnabel Sr. Fund, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3400 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19101.

Ms. Wright, Houston Hall

Nancy Irene Wright, retired information desk coordinator in Houston Hall, passed away March 8 at age 58.

Ms. Wright was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey. After moving to Philadelphia she obtained a job at the University of Pennsylvania Gift Shop  in 1984, which was then in Houston Hall. After a number of years she gained a position as scheduling coordinator in Houston Hall. Ms. Wright retired after 24 years at Penn due to illness last fall. Before retiring she was asked to act as a board member for the Women of Color At Penn; she was especially proud and honored for this acknowledgement.

Ms. Wright is survived by two daughters, Tracy C. Riggs and Tonya L. Johnson; grandchildren, Cyle Green, Brian R. Johnson, Nakita T. Barnett, and Umar Riggs Jr.; mother and stepfather, Shirley and Sam Barren; sisters, Lynn and Berley Simpson, and Ludia; brothers, Harry and Gil.


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 - March 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 25