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Vernon Behrhorst (G56), 76, Lafayette, La., Nov. 29, 2004. A pioneer in the preservation of the nation's water resources and a champion of waterway development, Mr. Behrhorst received a National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award in 1997.
Mr. Behrhorst came to Louisiana to teach geography and became involved with the Louisiana Intracoastal Seaway Association. He eventually served on almost every effort affecting rivers and coastal canals, both on a local and national level. He helped establish new standards in the construction of locks and worked to save Louisiana's threatened coastline.
Mr. Behrhorst is survived by his wife, Elsie, his children, Johanna, Francesca and Konrad, five grandchildren and his brother, Wallace.
Mr. Bellow's first short story, "The Hell It Can't," was published in the Daily Northwestern after winning third prize in a 1935 student literary contest. He went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1976 and the Pulitzer Prize for his 1975 book Humboldt's Gift. He was also the recipient of three National Book Awards, including one for his 1953 breakthrough work, The Adventures of Augie March.
Mr. Bellow is survived by his wife, Janis Freedman, their daughter, Naomi, and his sons Daniel, Adam and Gregory.
Sheldon Elias (GMu72), 58, Park Ridge, Ill., Dec. 24, 2004. A talented percussionist and composer, Mr. Elias performed with Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli and wrote music and theme songs for movies and documentaries, jingles for Chevy commercials and pieces featured by the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
In 1978 Mr. Elias was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but continued to create music, dictating notes to other musicians when he could no longer play. During an interview with the ABC television show Good Morning America, Mr. Elias said, "I'm not really living with MS. MS is just going to have to live with me."
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, a daughter, Melissa, his mother, Esther, and a brother, Mark.
Michael Francis Lefkow
Michael Francis Lefkow (L66), 64, Chicago, Feb. 28. An altruistic attorney, Mr. Lefkow devoted his career to fighting for the underdog.
Mr. Lefkow had a zeal for social justice that took him to Selma, Ala., where he marched beside Martin Luther King Jr. (he also attended King's funeral in 1968), and the U.S. Supreme Court, where he argued two class-action cases on behalf of public aid and welfare recipients.
Mr. Lefkow, husband of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow (L71), and his mother-in-law, Donna Grace Humphrey, were slain in the Lefkow's Chicago home.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Lefkow is survived by five daughters, including Helena Lefkow (WCAS01), two sisters, two brothers and three grandchildren.
Jessalyn Malmgren Nicklas
Jessalyn Malmgren Nicklas (EB37), 89, Inverness, Ill., Feb. 25. Exemplifying her lifelong dedication to education, Ms. Nicklas co-founded Harper College in Palatine and served as trustee for nearly 15 years.
A talented musician, Ms. Nicklas performed in Northwestern's Waa-Mu Show, which propelled her to a career as a singer on WGN Radio and as a featured vocalist with Wayne King & His Orchestra.
Her interest in education grew while raising her two daughters. When suburban city leaders voted against the idea of funding a community college in the early 1960s, Ms. Nicklas lobbied leaders to change their minds, and won.
She is survived by her two daughters, Jessalyn and Sandra, and five grandchildren.
Maurice James O'Brien
At the Marblehead Lime Co. Mr. O'Brien rose from a sales employee to company president in six years. As an alumnus he received a Northwestern Alumni Association Merit Award in 1968.
He is survived by his wife, Frances; six sons, including Maurice (L81), John (KSM89) and Peter (L91); seven daughters, including Marynell (WCAS72), Paula (WCAS74, KSM76), Elizabeth (G80, 86) and Martha (WCAS84); a son-in-law, William (C71); a brother, Patrick (McC47, L50); 26 grandchildren, including Maxwell (WCAS03); and a nephew, Paul (FSM96, GFSM00).
Sam Papich (McC36), 90, Albuquerque, Dec. 22, 2004. An FBI agent for 29 years, Mr. Papich worked undercover in South America during World War II and later served for 20 years as the FBI liaison to the CIA. In the early 1960s he served on Kennedy administration commissions surveying U.S. intelligence operations in Latin America. In 1970 he retired from the FBI to become a member of the President's Foreign Advisory Board, working with embassies around the globe and consulting with then-United Nations Ambassador George H.W. Bush. He later served as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an assessment of Soviet intelligence.
Mr. Papich is survived by his wife, Margery, his daughter, Louise, and his son, William.
Edgar Allan Toppin
Edgar Allan Toppin (G55), 76, Ettrick, Va., Dec. 8, 2004. A distinguished professor emeritus at Virginia State University, Mr. Toppin was a nationally known expert on African American history. A former president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Mr. Toppin was instrumental in turning Black History Week into Black History Month in 1976.
In the 1960s Mr. Toppin produced an educational television series called Americans from Africa and wrote "Blacks in America," a 15-part series published by the Christian Science Monitor. He wrote 10 books during his career.
Mr. Toppin is survived by his wife, Antionette, two daughters, Louise and Avis, two sisters, Eleanor and Mary, and three grandchildren.