Robert B. Uretz, 94

Robert Uretz
Robert (Bob) B. Uretz died on Friday, September 14, 2018 in Chicago, IL at the age of 94. Born June 27, 1924 in Chicago to Sol A. Uretz and Lottie (Kaplan) Uretz, he lived in the city most of his life. A resident of Hyde Park for more than seven decades starting with his undergraduate years at U of C, he and his wife of more than 50 years, Violet (Vi) Fogle Uretz, lived on Dorchester Avenue, then Park Place, then Woodlawn Avenue before moving to Montgomery Place in 2006. He loved the South Side Chicago lakefront, where he enjoyed taking his dogs for swims, boating, and walking around the Promontory Point.

Devoted to his family, he delighted in keeping up with the activities and interests of several generations, whether in person or via the latest communications technology. Kind, generous, and a thoughtful listener, he engaged people with his wide range of interests and quiet sense of humor. At Montgomery Place where he lived for his last 12 years, he was president of the residents’ council and participated in the current events discussion group, New Yorker readers’ group, and residents’ support group.

After graduating from Marshall High School, he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force (1943-46), participating in meteorological and cosmic ray research for the military on scientific flights to Alaska and South America.

After his discharge from the army, he attended the University of Chicago, earning his BS in 1947 and PhD in biophysics in 1954. Deeply loyal to the University, he spent the rest of his career there. He joined the faculty in 1954 and was named the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in 1972. Before his retirement in 1994, he held many important administrative positions, serving as Chair of the Biophysics Department; Associate Dean for the Division of Biological Sciences; Deputy Dean of the Medical School; Associate Vice President for the Medical Center; and Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and Medical School, and Vice President for the Medical Center. At the time of his initial appointment, he was one of the only deans of a major U.S. medical school who did not have an MD degree.

He spent several summers in the 1950’s and 1960’s conducting research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and a sabbatical year in London, England. He was a member of the Biophysics Society; the Radiation Research Society; American Society of Cell Biology; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Sigma Xi; and served as a member of the Board of Trustees for BioSciences Information Service (BIOSIS).

He was predeceased by his wife Vi (an artist and long-time presenter at the 57th Street Art Fair), and his son, Alan Uretz. He is survived by his daughter Jane Miller, daughters-in-law Jennifer Uretz and Marybeth Uretz, grandsons Ian Miller (Evelyn), Colin Miller, and William Uretz, and great-grandsons Reinhart Miller and Kai Miller.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in his name to the Southern Poverty Law Center at https://www.splcenter.org/support-us, or to WFMT classical music station (through which he met Vi) at https://www.wfmt.com/support-wfmt/. A celebration of his life will be held at Montgomery Place sometime in November.