Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Winter 2014 Vol. 109 No. 1 OAM Home | Oberlin Online



Dr. Kelvin Van Nuys earned a master’s degree in religious education at Union Theological Seminary in 1943, a master’s of divinity in 1944, and a PhD in philosophy in 1949 at Columbia University. His academic career included faculty posts at Moravian College, Whittier College, the South Dakota School of Mines, and, beginning in 1963, Ohio’s Wilmington College. Following his retirement in 1979, he and his family returned to Rapid City, S.D. Dr. Van Nuys wrote three books, Science and Cosmic Purpose (1947); Is Reality Meaningful? (1963); and A Holist Pilgrimage (1980). He was a train enthusiast, an amateur oil painter, and an amateur musician and composer. A number of his compositions were recorded by James Macinnes in 2001. His wife of 59 years, Rena, died in 2011. He is survived by three children and four grandchildren.


Margaret Campbell Davison was a talented pianist who taught piano privately and was a member of the Long Island Piano Club. She earned a master’s degree in education at Columbia University and took a teaching job in Wilmington, Del. She and her late husband were Quakers, and he was a conscientious objector during World War II. He took a position in the Civilian Public Service for five years, during which time Ms. Davison taught English at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. She retired to Florida with her companion of 12 years, Milton Zipper, who survives her, as does a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. Ms. Davison died August 12, 2013.


Lois Muehl earned a master’s degree at the University of Iowa. She was a radio newscaster in South Carolina and was an ad copywriter in New York City before settling in Iowa City, where she raised her family and wrote children’s books and magazine articles. Her first book, My Name is ____, was a Junior Literary Guild Selection, and Worst Room in the School was on the New York Times’ “100 Best” list. She served as director of the Reading Lab in the University of Iowa Rhetoric Program. She was a longtime member of the University Writers Group and published two poetry collections, Dark/Light and The Barking Cat and Other Odd Poems. With her husband, Siegman, she also taught in special programs for African American students in Charlotte, N.C., in refugee camps in Thailand, for Asian refugees in Merced, Calif., as well as in Korea. Ms. Muehl died August 21, 2013, survived by her husband of 69 years, four children, and five grandchildren, including Kira Silver ’09.


Stanley Dice was a mathematics professor and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Cora Klick Dice. He died April 9, 2012, at Paul’s Run Community in Philadelphia.


Dr. Sadayoshi Omoto was attending the University of Washington when Americans of Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was sent to Manzanar Relocation Camp but later joined his 
older brothers in the U.S. military before coming to Oberlin to resume his studies. He earned a master’s degree at Michigan State University (MSU) and a PhD in art history at Ohio State University, as well as an honorary bachelor’s at the University of Washington in 2008. Dr. Omoto’s 40-year academic career included teaching American and Asian art and serving as an advisor and mentor to students at Bradley College, Wayne State University, and MSU, where he taught for 33 years. He remained active in retirement, focusing on creativity and community service. He died March 4, 2013, and is survived by his wife, Kathryn Bishop Omoto, three children, and a grandchild.


Dr. Richard Updegraff spent his childhood in Miraj, India, where his parents were missionaries. He earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and worked with his wife, Virginia, also a doctor, in missionary hospitals in Turkey, Ghana, and Liberia from 1961-1984. They moved to Duluth in 2000. 
Dr. Updegraff died August 23, 2013. He is survived by five children; his wife died in March 2013.


R. Bruce MacWhorter earned his JD degree at the University of Virginia Law School. Mr. MacWhorter joined the New York law firm of Shearman and Sterling in 1956, was elected to the partnership of the firm in 1965, and retired after 35 years of distinguished service. He was the leader of the firm’s first antitrust stand-alone practice group for 20 years, during which time the group earned a reputation as one of the most respected antitrust practices in the United States. A longtime resident of Maplewood, N.J., Mr. MacWhorter and his wife moved to WindsorMeade in Williamsburg, Va., in 2007. He died August 26, 2013, leaving his wife, Althea Davis MacWhorter, three daughters, and six grandchildren.


Roger Meyer earned a law degree at Yale University and practiced law in Portland, Ore., for a half-century. In 1985 he formed Meyer & Wyse, which he led until his retirement. As a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Oregon, he represented a woman fighting to strip the City Club of Portland of its tax-exempt status for its exclusion of women; the suit was rendered moot when the club decided to end the practice. Mr. Meyer enjoyed the natural beauty of the Northwest and was an avid bird and duck hunter. From an early age he was an avid and adventurous traveler and had a lifelong love of dance. He died on September 3, 2013. His first marriage, to Mary Hoerr Meyer ’56, led to three children, who survive him. He is also survived by his wife, Jackie Jeppe, and five grandchildren.


Tera Ann Singewald Younger spent her career working in health policy and management, beginning with her Oberlin summer job with the Medicare Task Force at Social Security. 
She held a variety of positions in the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration in Baltimore, New York, and Boston, culminating as the national director of program operations for Medicare and Medicaid. She earned an MS at the Harvard School of Public Health, ran a community program at a Boston teaching hospital, and was CEO of a medical review organization in Boston for six years. In 1992, 
she moved to London, where she worked for the National Health Service and was active in her church. She died on May 8, 2013.


Dr. Merle Morrison Orren, a Chicago native, was an accomplished neuropsychologist whose career spanned both scholarly research (laboratory studies of epilepsy) and clinical practice (the rehabilitation of brain-injured patients). She earned a PhD in physiological psychology at Boston University. In her early years, she was a star athlete and a talented modern dancer. In later years, she was an avid reader and a dedicated follower of her Jewish heritage. She died June 1, 2011, and is survived by her husband of 43 years, Gary Orren ’67, her daughter, her son, and her granddaughter.


Frederick “Rickey” Black earned an MS in geology at the University of Wisconsin in 1977. He and his wife, Robin ’72, moved to Oklahoma when he was hired by Gulf Oil. Later, he worked for Slawson Oil and eventually started his own company, B&W Exploration, in 1988. He was a board member and treasurer of Temple B’nai Israel and board member and treasurer of the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma City. He made vitally important contributions to the rebuilding of Oberlin’s geology department and to field camp scholarships. One of the three geology labs that were renovated with the support of the Blacks is named in their honor and is affectionately known as the Black Hole. Mr. Black also supported many Oklahoma cultural and civic institutions including the Oklahoma City Ballet, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Mr. Black died May 7, 2013, survived by his wife of 35 years and three children.


Alan Epstein earned his law degree at the New York University School of Law. He was a partner at Hirschen, Singer & Epstein, where he devoted his professional life to helping developers of supportive and affordable housing build homes for those most in need. He was widely admired for his diligent and creative efforts to expand housing opportunities and is credited with making possible 46,000 units of supportive housing in New York today. He was secretary of the board of directors of the Supportive Housing Network of New York and in 2008 received the Private Sector Partner of the Year award. He died September 4, 2013, survived by his wife, Rachel Miller, and two daughters.

Tara Whitehill was born on the island of Guam, where her father was serving as a doctor in the U.S. Navy, but moved with her family to Hong Kong two years later. After college she worked in Washington, D.C., for the American Psychological Association before moving to New York and earning a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. In 1984 she visited Hong Kong on a holiday and ended up staying for over 30 years, working as a speech therapist at the John F. Kennedy Center. She later joined Hong Kong University, where she worked for 25 years, eventually as full professor, head of department, and associate dean. In 2007, Ms. Whitehill was made a fellow of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association in recognition of her professional accomplishments. She died August 28, 2013, survived by her husband, Paul Woodward, and sons Christopher and Mark.


Grant McAllister Martin was a neuroscience researcher in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Paul Greengard at Rockefeller University in Manhattan. He earned the faculty award for academic excellence at Oberlin and continued his pursuit of neuroscience as an intern at the University of California, San Francisco. He coauthored a scientific study, “The Effect of Distraction on the Quality of Memory,” and he developed a behavioral test named the “Martin Auditory Normalization Task,” which is still in use today. He was also a musician, composer, and member of the band Icewater, which was in the process of recording a full-length CD. He was also an avid hiker and traveler. He died unexpectedly and accidentally on July 26, 2013 and is survived by parents BJ and Chris and brother Matty.

Memorial Minute

Ronald Taylor Bishop ’52


By Michael Rosen
Director, Division of

Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion

Ron Bishop was a gifted musician who had a lifelong passion for playing the tuba that began when he was just 7 years old. He would often be seen going to his lessons with the instrument nestled in a little red wagon because the tuba weighed more than he did. Short stints in the Buffalo Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony (and Opera Orchestra) led to his appointment by George Szell as tubist in the Cleveland Orchestra in 1967, where he remained with great success until his retirement in 2005. However, retirement was filled with teaching, and he continued to maintain a full teaching schedule at Baldwin-Wallace, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Oberlin Conservatory. He seemed to have a special fondness for Oberlin, where he taught dozens of students during his tenure here. One of his most illustrious students was David Stull. I find it interesting that both men worked on commercial fishing boats when each was young; perhaps a requirement for tuba players!

He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at the Eastman School of Music, where he displayed his athletic ability serving as captain of the swim team for the University of Rochester. He went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Illinois. It was in San Francisco where Ron met his bride to be, Marie Elizabeth Milburn. This union lasted for more than 48 years. Their son Christopher and granddaughter Isabella would spend summers in their beloved rustic cabin on Ruston Island off the coast of British Columbia that was accessible only by boat.

Ron would often be singled out by critics in reviews of the orchestra for his lyric playing, musicality, virtuosity, and beautiful tone. He was also an advocate of new music, playing with a flair that bordered on the delightfully bizarre. Probably the most impressive fact about him for me was that he won a Grammy for a recording with PDQ Bach, aka Peter Schickele.

Ron was a devoted teacher and mentor known throughout the musical world, and not just by brass players. My fondest personal memory of Ron was when we played the Rite of Spring together in a festival orchestra in Brazil. I knew that a real pro was in charge and that I could count on him for the rhythm and pitch on the tuba that set up my timpani entrance. He cared greatly for his students both musically and personally. Just two days before he died he recommended the person to be his replacement at Oberlin. I would never know when he would show up to teach but I would hear him in the hall talking in his deep, resonant voice that matched his instrument. His signature beard and quick smile displayed a gentle soul with a twinkle in his eye—a real gentleman! He was hard-working and serious about music but knew how to have fun.


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