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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 29 · Number 3 · Spring 2012

In Memoriam: Faculty

portrait photos

Ursula Abbott and Florian "Bart" Bartosic

Ursula Abbott, an avian scientist whose UC Davis career spanned nearly 50 years, died at her Davis home in January after a battle with cancer. She was 84. Her research focused on the avian embryo and developmental genetics. She was chair of the avian sciences department during 1981–84. When she retired in 2004, a symposium on developmental genetics was held on campus in her honor.

Florian "Bart" Bartosic, dean of the School of Law during 1980–90, died in December of complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 85. An expert on labor law, he worked as counsel for the Teamsters Union during the 1960s; before his death, he had been writing a book about the late Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa. At UC Davis, Professor Bartosic played an integral role in King Hall's rise to national prominence during the 1980s, overseeing the hiring of several faculty members and launching fundraising initiatives, including one that led to the establishment of the school's first endowed faculty chair. He retired from the faculty in 1992, but taught occasional courses until 1998, when health problems prevented him from continuing. He received the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1998. Among other publications, he co-authored the book, Labor Relations Law in the Private Sector.

James Biggar, a water science professor for more than 30 years, died in January of pneumonia complications. He was 83. His research on how water, chemicals and pollution move through soil helped improve food production. He served on the board of the Cal Aggie Christian Association.

Richard Rice '60, M.S. '61, Ph.D. '67, a professor emeritus who worked 33 years at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, died in December at age 74. An authority on pest management in tree fruit and nut crops, he served on the USDA/CDFA Medfly Science Advisory Panel, and on science advisory committees for the California avocado, citrus, stone fruit, nut and olive industries. He retired from the faculty in 2001.

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Robert Stringall, Catherine Toft and Benjamin Wallacker

Robert Stringall, a professor emeritus of mathematics and civil rights advocate who believed math held the power to change the lives of disadvantaged children, died in December in Davis of complications related to Lewy body disease. He was 78. During his 1966–89 tenure, Professor Stringall promoted the teaching of advanced mathematics in elementary schools and spearheaded the establishment of a UC Davis graduate program to train math teachers.

Catherine Toft, a professor emeritus of evolution and ecology, died in December at her mother's Woodland home from nonsmoker's lung cancer. She was 61. She was an expert on population ecology. She also was a long-time volunteer in local collie rescue and adoption programs, and helped rescue hoarded animals.

Benjamin Wallacker, professor emeritus of East Asian languages and cultures, died at his Davis home last September. He was 84. He came to UC Davis in 1964 as a visiting professor, and became a full professor in 1970. Among his many publications were his book, The Huai-nan-tzu, Book Eleven: Behavior, Culture and the Cosmos (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1962). He was associate director and director of the UC Davis Education Abroad Program at Chinese University of Hong Kong (1970–72). He was also associate dean for the College of Letters and Science Interdepartmental Programs and Program Development (1976–82). He retired in 1991, but continued to research and to travel.

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