Recent Division of the Social Sciences Obituaries

Alice Bro Racher, AM’48 (Anthropology), died July 20. She was 90. Racher practiced medicine for nearly three decades at the University of Illinois Hospitals, the Cook County Public Health DepartmentProject Head Start day care programs, and children’s clinics in East Chicago Heights. She mentored many young Park Forest women considering professional careers, held leadership positions on Park Forest school PTAs, served on the Park Forest Health and Welfare Advisory Committee, chaired the social action committee at Beth Sholom, and served on the board of Shimer College. Racher and her husband Manny were inducted into the Park Forest Hall of Fame in 1996.


Leonard Fein, AB’54, AM’58 (Political Science), died August 14 in Manhattan. He was 80. An intellectual and activist, Fein earned a PhD in political science from Michigan State University before teaching in the political science department at MIT and later joining the Brandeis University faculty, where he taught Jewish studies. Fein wrote books, a weekly column for the Jewish Daily Forward, and contributed to publications including the New York Times, which described him in an obituary as “a social progressive, a fierce peacenik, a staunch defender of Israel and a shrewd observer of the American Jewish community.” In the 1970s he and Elie Wiesel founded the magazine Moment, which concentrated on Jewish issues. In 1985 Fein founded the charity Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, which asked families celebrating opulent bar mitzvahs and weddings to contribute 3 percent of the cost of their celebrations. In 1997 he founded the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, a network of organizations that provide volunteer tutors in schools.


Miriam (Kovner) Ringo, AM’61 (Economics), of Burr Ridge, IL, died March 19. She was 95. A labor economist who began her career at the US Department of Labor, Ringo later worked for Inland Steel and for the State of Illinois, from which she retired as director of operations for the Speaker of the House. She was the author of Nobody Said It Better! 2700 Wise and Witty Quotations About Famous People (Rand McNally, 1980). Her husband, G. Roy Ringo, SB’36, PhD’40, one of the first physicists to work on Argonne National Laboratory’s nuclear reactor, died in 2008.


George W. Hilton, AM’50, PhD’56 (Economics), a professor of economics and transportation regulation at UCLA for 30 years, died August 4 in Columbia, MD. He was 89. Hilton authored 15 books, many about trains and steamboats, along with numerous articles for Trains magazine. He also wrote widely on British soccer, Gilbert and Sullivan, Sherlock Holmes, baseball, the Eastland capsizing, and theater organs, in addition to editing a newsletter for collectors of brewery memorabilia.


Stanley Reiter, AM’50, PhD’55 (Economics), professor emeritus of managerial economics and decision sciences, economics, and mathematics at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, died in Evanston, IL, on August 9. He was 89. Reiter, who founded Northwestern’s Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, was known for applying mathematical methods to the study of operations. Also the Morrison Professor of Economics and Mathematics in the school’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, he authored four books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles. Reiter was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Former UChicago president Hugo F. Sonnenschein, who studied under Reiter at Purdue University, said in an Northwestern obituary that Reiter “did not teach you what to say, but he taught you how to think.”


Robert Duane Snider, AM’63 (Political Science), died July 5 in Ashland, OR. He was 77. After graduating magna cum laude from the College of Idaho, he attended the University of Chicago on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. His career in Seattle, Alaska, and Chicago included teaching college courses on political science, grant administration, and legal research. In 1995 he married Hideko Tamura, AM’60, whom he first met at the University in the 1960s.


Margaret Arlene Payne, PhD’63 (Education), died June 18 in Chapel Hill, NC. She was 87. Payne’s first academic position was as a professor of nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She later was on the faculty at the University of Missouri–Kansas City before joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from which she retired in 1990. She authored numerous articles and two books on educational curriculum, and she served as a consultant for several professional associations related to nutrition and educational curriculum. She was a great-aunt of President Barack Obama.


Jack Siegel, AM’48 (Political Science), JD’51, died in September in Evanston, IL. He was 88. An expert in municipal law and an adviser to a succession of town leaders, his career spanned more than 50 years as village attorney for Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, and Riverwoods. He had been corporation counsel for Evanston for 47 years. For the past 15 years Siegel worked with the Chicago legal office of Holland & Knight.


Ernesto Fontaine, AM’58, PhD’64 (Economics), died January 21 in Santiago, Chile. He was 79. An academic and policy maker in his native Chile, he was one of the “Chicago Boys,” a group of young, mostly Chilean economists who trained in the Department of Economics under Milton Friedman, AM’33 (Economics), and Arnold Harberger, AM’47, PhD’50 (Economics). After becoming the first Latin American to receive his PhD in economics from the University, he joined the faculty Chile’s Catholic University and maintained a connection to UChicago throughout his life.