Hope Altman Abelson
Hope Altman Abelson (CB30), 95, Chicago, Sept. 1. One of the city’s most prominent theater patrons, Mrs. Abelson supported Chicago artists and productions for almost 30 years. The former production assistant on Broadway left her mark throughout the Chicago arts community. She regularly appeared on opening night for the shows she patronized.
In addition to her unflagging support of Chicago theater, Mrs. Abelson established the Hope Abelson Artist-in-Residence Program in Northwestern’s School of Communication. Her late husband established the Lester S. Abelson Fund at the Feinberg School of Medicine.
She is survived by a daughter, Katherine, and grandsons Jamie and Jesse.
Clinton Bristow Jr.
Clinton Bristow Jr. (SESP71, L74, G77), 57, Lorman, Miss., Aug. 19. President of Alcorn State University since 1995, Mr. Bristow led the historically African American institution to a large increase in the number of professional degree students, encouraged faculty research in the life sciences and worked to build a strong international community.
Before his term at Alcorn State, Mr. Bristow served as president of the Chicago Board of Education and dean of the College of Business at Chicago State University.
As a Northwestern student, Mr. Bristow served as a member and officer in For Members Only, the African American student alliance.
He is survived by a daughter, Maya.
Deborah J. Gerner
Deborah J. “Misty” Gerner (G79, 82), 50, Baldwin City, Kan., June 19. An expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian nationalism, Ms. Gerner spent half her life studying, visiting and living in the Middle East. The University of Kansas professor of political science interviewed former Palestinian Liberation Organization chair Yasser Arafat twice.
She received several awards for her distinguished teaching in subjects such as democratization, human rights, conflict resolution and foreign policy.
Ms. Gerner was influenced by the late Northwestern professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod. She later returned to Northwestern as a visiting professor.
She is survived by her husband, Philip, her parents, Henry and Dorothy, and her brother, Mark.
Dr. Olga Jonasson (WCAS54), 72, Chicago, Aug. 30. A pioneer in transplant surgery, Dr. Jonasson began her career as a surgeon when few women were entering the field. She established transplantation services at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she taught from 1967 to 1987, and performed one of the state’s first kidney transplants in 1969. She pioneered research in antirejection drugs and organ compatibility.
She served as chief of surgery at Cook County Hospital from 1977 to 1987 before moving to Ohio State University to become the first woman to head a surgery department at a coeducational university. In 1993 Dr. Jonasson became educational director for the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Jonasson is survived by sisters Runa and Greta.
Seymour Simon (WCAS35, L38, H87), 91, Chicago, Sept. 26. A fixture in Chicago and Illinois politics and law since the 1950s, Mr. Simon earned a reputation as an independent thinker.
A former Chicago alderman, he served eight years on the state Supreme Court, where he dissented in all death penalty cases. His correspondence with then-Gov. George Ryan helped prompt Ryan to commute the death sentences of all Illinois death row inmates (see “A Dissentful Life,” summer 2005).
Mr. Simon, recipient of a 1982 Northwestern Alumni Association Merit Award, is survived by his wife, Roslyn; two sons, John and Anthony; a daughter, Nancy; two sisters, Eleanor Simon Kushner (WCAS43) and Muriel; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Eileen P. Sweeney
Eileen P. Sweeney (WCAS73, L76), 54, Washington, D.C., June 13. Ms. Sweeney devoted herself to improving the lives of children, senior citizens, the disabled and the poor. Most recently she served as a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.
In 1985 Ms. Sweeney received the Reginald Heber Smith Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for her work on behalf of low-income people.
She is survived by her husband, Lawrence A. Johnston (L76); their children, Edward, Kathleen and Matthew; her parents, Howard Sweeney (WCAS49, FSM51) and Kathleen; and siblings Patrick Sweeney (FSM88, GFSM93), Maureen Sweeney (C80, GC82, 96) and Timothy Sweeney (KSM87).
Volney “Bill” Wilson
Volney “Bill” Wilson (WCAS32), 96, Sister Bay, Wis., April 1. A pioneer in nuclear research, Mr. Wilson worked on the Manhattan Project, directing a team that designed and built the safety and control systems for the first nuclear reactor. He witnessed the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in an experimental reactor at the University of Chicago.
He later invented a device for converting heat into electricity, one of 15 patents he held.
During his Northwestern days, Mr. Wilson was the anchorman on a world record–setting 300-yard freestyle relay team. He went to the 1932 Olympics as a swimming alternate.
He is survived by two sons, Robert and Lee, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.