Dr. Robert F. Murray Jr. ’53, of Washington, D.C., was a national authority in the field of genetics, particularly sickle cell anemia, and the first Black member of the Union College Board of Trustees. He died Jan. 21, 2022, at the age of 90.
Born in Newburgh, N.Y., in 1931, Bob earned a bachelor of science degree from Union, where he contributed significantly to campus life. Upon graduation, he received the Frank Bailey (1885) Prize for outstanding service to the College. Additionally, Bob was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, Delphic Society and Christian Society. He was a soloist for glee club and choir, and a member of Block U. Bob won seven letters in cross country, basketball and track.
Just as engaged as an alumnus, he was a loyal supporter of the College and a member of the Terrace Council, Union’s leadership giving society. Bob was a career resources volunteer, Annual Fund phonathon worker and Alumni Council member. In 1972, he was elected alumni trustee, becoming the first Black member of the Board. He served in that capacity from 1972 until 1980.
Bob also held a master of science degree in genetics from the University of Washington, and a medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. After completing his residency in internal medicine at the University of Colorado Medical Center, he also served in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health.
In 1967, Bob joined the faculty of Howard University College of Medicine, where he became chair of the Graduate Department of Genetics and Human Genetics. He also saw patients at the Howard University Hospital pediatric clinic.
During his time at Howard, Bob became a pioneer in pediatric sickle cell disease research. He authored or co-authored more than 80 publications, including four books. Bob retired from the university in 2009 after 42 years.
An active member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, he was a fellow and member of the Board of Directors of the Hastings Center on Bioethics. He was a fellow of the American Association of Science and served on special committees of the National Institutes of Health, including the working group on ethics, law and social issues for the National Center for Human Genome Research.
Outside of medicine, Bob was a lifelong lover of music. He was an accomplished pianist and had a powerful singing voice. He found great joy performing with the choir, and directing and signing with the Jubilee Singers at All Souls Unitarian Church, of which he was a member for more than 40 years.
Possessed of an infectious laugh and great sense of humor, Bob was a born storyteller who loved science fiction, sitcoms, opera, classical music, jazz, R&B, good food and the Redskins.
He is survived by his wife, Isobel (Peachy) Murray; children, Dr. Robert F. Murray III, Suzanne F. Drielsma and Dianne Murray Jones; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Jamaluddin Aram ’17 of Afghanistan, a writer, documentary filmmaker and producer, has secured a book deal from Scribner, Canada, for his debut novel, “Nothing Good Ever Happens in Wazirabad on a Wednesday.”
Senator Jim Tedisco '72 (R,C-Glenville) recently honored 11th grade and 5th grade students from the Greater Johnstown School District. They who won first place in the New York State Odyssey of the Mind finals, qualifying them for the World Finals at Iowa State University.
Desiree Plata '03 was recently featured in an HHS Press article titled, "From Superfund Site to Super Scientist." Plata is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT. She studies the impact of industrially generated chemicals on the environment.
In April, Helena Binder '76 taught a class that walked participants through the process of developing a stage production. The course was part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth. An actor and director for 40 years, Binder has produced works for opera companies throughout the U.S.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano recently swore in attorney Lawrence R. Sykes '71 to the Yonkers Board of Education. Sykes has practiced law for over 30 years in the areas of litigation, real estate and municipal law.
Mary K. Carroll ’86, the Dwane W. Crichton Professor of Chemistry at Union College, is a candidate for 2023 American Chemical Society (ACS) president-elect. If elected in fall 2022, she will serve a three-year term in the presidential succession, including service on the ACS Board of Directors. Learn more about Carroll on Union's website.
Vic Fazio '65, a congressman who chaired the House Democratic caucus, died March 16 at the age of 79. He represented the Sacramento area from 1979 to 1999 and was a member of the House Appropriations and Armed Services commissions.