Obituaries - 2021

These obituaries are for people who died during 2021. They are listed in reverse chronological order. All of our obituaries have been collected by ASURA volunteers, primarily from the Arizona Republic. They have been edited for use in ASURA publications.

Robert James Creager, M.D.

Robert James Creager, M.D.

Lecturer, Family Nurse Practitioners Program,College of Nursind

12 Jan 2021

Robert “Bob” James Creager, M.D., 69, passed away on January 12, 2021. Bob obtained his A.B. in biology in 1974 from Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1977, where he also graduated cum laude. He completed his internship and residency in family practice at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, AZ from 1978 to 1981 where he served as Chief Resident in his final year. Realizing his dream for teaching medical students and residents, he began by tutoring medical students in Biochemistry and nursing students in Biology in 1974. He went on to lecturing at ASU College of Nursing for the Family Nurse Practitioners Program in 1981. This led to him obtaining his M.Ed. in Higher and Adult Education from ASU in 1985 and so began his long career in teaching and mentoring medical residents through the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Bob began his career with HonorHealth (formerly Scottsdale Healthcare & Scottsdale Memorial). While at Scottsdale Medical Center Osborn, he served as the Director of Employee Health from 1986 to 1995 and as the Director of Continuing Medical Education from 1992 to 1997. He also started with the Scottsdale Healthcare Family Medicine Residency where he was the Assistant Program Director from 1981 to 1986, Program Director from 1986 to 2011, and with Honor Health Medical Group Mescal from 2015 to 2018. Throughout his career, he practiced in Family Medicine at several hospitals and private practices in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area while often also holding additional professional positions at the facilities.

He was preceded in death by a brother. He is survived by his wife, Theresa, three sons, a granddaughter, a sister and nieces. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society. (Source: ASU Foundation)

 Mark I. Harrison

 Mark I. Harrison

Adjunct Professor, College of Law

 11 Jan 2021

Mark I. Harrison, 86, passed away on January 11, 2021. He was one of the country's most respected leaders in the field of legal and judicial ethics and professional liability -- a guiding light in the Arizona legal community.

Mark attended Antioch College and Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Ellen, moved to Arizona in 1960, where Mark clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice Lorna E. Lockwood. From there, he embarked on 60 years of law practice. He worked in several iterations of his own firm, including Harrison, Harper, Christian & Dichter before joining Bryan Cave, LLP in 1993. From 2004 until his passing, Mark was a partner at Osborn Maledon, P.A., where his practice focused primarily on legal ethics, lawyers' licensure, professional liability, judicial ethics and discipline, risk management, and writing "reply all" emails on a wide variety of topics.

Mark served in local, state and national bar associations, as well as countless civic and charitable organizations. He served as President of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors in 1975 and was again elected to the Board at the age of 85, 40 years later. His advocacy for civil and social justice included service as President of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood in Arizona and as the first Chair of the Board of Directors of Teach For America Phoenix.

Mark chaired the ABA Commission to revise the Model Code of Judicial Conduct and Justice at Stake, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving fair and impartial courts. He helped countless lawyers and psychologists facing disciplinary proceedings. Seeing their humanity, he represented them with compassion and skill.

He taught legal ethics as an adjunct professor at both the University of Arizona and ASU Law Schools. Mark loved serving as a mentor to younger professionals, mindful that the experience, knowledge, and values he had acquired should be paid forward to the next generation.

Harrison received numerous state and national awards, including the ABA's Michael Franck Award for Professional Responsibility, the Burnham "Hod" Greeley Award for contributions to understanding the role of the judiciary, the State Bar's Walter E. Craig Lifetime Achievement Award, the Charles W. Kettlewell Legal Ethics Advisory Award, the Judge Learned Hand Award for Community Service, and the Planned Parenthood Peggy Goldwater Award.

Mark is survived by his wife Ellen, two daughters, two granddaughters, three step-grandchildren, three step-great-grandchildren and a vast group of family, friends and colleagues. Mark was buried at Mt. Sinai Cemetery on January 14, 2021. A celebration of Mark's life will be held later.

The family requests contributions be made in Mark's name to Planned Parenthood of Arizona, c/o Annet Ruiter, 4751 N. 15th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014, or to the University of Arizona Law College Association, directed to the Mark I. Harrison Scholarship 1201 E. Speedway Blvd., P.O. Box 210176, Tucson, AZ 85721 or to Hospice of the Valley 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014. (Source: Arizona Republic)

 John David Ratliff

 John David Ratliff

Professor, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

 8 Jan 2021

John David Ratliff, 98, died on January 8, 2021. After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship to attend what is now ASU where he studied classic literature. His time in college was interrupted by his service as a radar technician on a Marine battleship in World War II. John returned from the South Pacific to complete his BA. He taught junior high for a year, married Dellamae Weller and headed for graduate school at Claremont College (MA). He then went to Stanford University for his Ph.D work (specialty in Shakespeare). He got a good job at Oregon State University, but wanted to return to Arizona and landed a position at ASU within a few years.

John enjoyed teaching, but his roving intelligence wouldn’t let him sit still. He intuited in the early 1960’s that the Valley he had known for so long was about to have a significant real estate boom and he wanted to be in on it. He plunged into the world of real estate, working for others at first to learn the ropes while continuing to teach. He’d opened his own business by 1965 and gradually reduced his hours on the ASU campus, but continued to teach Shakespeare courses into the 1970’s. His career in real estate took off and he was a force until he retired to travel the world in his later years. This last adventure took him to at least 80 countries.

John is survived by one daughter, three sons, their spouses and four grandchildren. (Source: Messinger Mortuary)

Rennard Strickland

Rennard Strickland

Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History co-acquired by ASU and Scottsdale's Museum of the West. Acquired in 2016

5 Jan 2021

Rennard Strickland, 80, died January 5, 2021. He was the Senior Scholar in Residence at the University of Oklahoma Law Center. Strickland, a native of Muskogee was considered a pioneer in introducing Indian Law into the University's legal curriculum. Strickland had been involved in the resolution of a number of significant Indian cases, including testifying on behalf of the Muskogee Nation and against the State of Oklahoma in the case which established the rights of American Indian tribes to engage in gaming.

Strickland was the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of American Law and Policy at the University of Oklahoma. He was the only person to have been a tenured professor of Law at all three of Oklahoma's ABA-approved Law Schools. He was the first and only person to have served as both the President of the Associate of American Law Schools and as the chair of the Law School Admissions Council. He was also the only person to have been honored by both the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) with their annual teaching award and the American Bar Association's "Spirit of Excellence" Award. In 1997, he was elected to the American Law Institute and in 2012 received the Robert Kutakes' Award presented by the American Bar Association in recognition of his substantial contribution to understanding between legal education and the active practice of law. In 1992, he was appointed Chair of the Osage Constitutional Commission by Judge Ellison, the Federal District Judge for the northern District of Oklahoma.

Strickland spent much of his career in Legal Education as a Dean of various law schools including the University of Tulsa, Southern Illinois University, Oklahoma City University, and the University of Oregon. He was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 1980, at Florida University Law School in 1983, and at Syracuse University Law School in 2001. He resigned the deanship at Southern Illinois Law School when he accepted an appointment at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1988-89, before coming to the University of Oklahoma Law School.

Professor Strickland earned his B.A. from Northeastern State University, his J.D. from the University of Virginia, his M.A. from the University of Arkansas, and His SJD Doctorate from the Science of Juris Prudence from the University of Virginia. He had been awarded three honorary doctorates from Valporaza University, Northeastern State University, as well as Bacone University, where he was also honored with naming of the legal program, The Rennard Strickland Criminal Law and Society major. In 2012, Rennard was inducted into the Oklahoma Historian's Hall of Fame, and in 2015 he was presented with the Gibson Award for Life Achievement by the Oklahoma Center for the Book with special citation for his three books, which have remained "in print" for more than 50 years, including Sam Houston with the Cherokees, Fire and the Spirits: Cherokee Law from Clan to Court, and The Indians in Oklahoma (part of the series Newcomers to a New Land). In addition, he was honored in 2015 with the gold medallion from the Independent Publishers Association for his art book written with Cherokee Chief Chad Smith, entitled Building One Fire; the Outstanding Arts Publication – Spirit Red, the catalogue for the showing of his personal Indian art collection at the Fred Jones, Jr. Art Museum which was designed by Eric Anderson.

Among the additional awards presented to him were the St. Thomas More given to him by the first law school at which he taught, St. Mary's in San Antonino; and the Hayward Burns Memorial Award presented to him by the New York Bar Association's People of Color Conference. He served three terms on the ABA Council of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, six terms on the Board of Oklahoma Indian Legal Services and one term on the Board of the Society of American Law Teachers. At the time of his death, the University of Oregon Law School had held ten lectures on American Indian Law in his honor delivered by authorities in the field.

Strickland was an arts philanthropist having given his "Shared Visions" collection in 1992 to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and his "Spirit Red Collection" to the Fred Jones, Jr. Art Museum at the University of Oklahoma in 2009. He also gave his "Law and Popular Culture" collection to the University of Oklahoma Law Center. In 2016, the Scottsdale museum of the West and the Arizona State University Foundation acquired more than 5,000 motion picture posters and lobby-cards from Strickland and his "Golden West" collection became the center of their joint venture.

Rennard Strickland is survived by a sister, niece, nephew, grand-niece and three grand-nephews. He was preceded in death by a brother. Friends are asked to make a contribution to either the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum or the Scottsdale Museum of the West. (Source: Arizona Republic)

Jacob Fuchs

Jacob Fuchs

Emeritus Professor, School of Molecular Sciences

3 Jan 2021

Jacob “Jack” Fuchs, 97, of Tempe, AZ, passed away January 3, 2021. His first recollection of interest in chemistry refers to an event that occurred at the age ten. He convinced his father to take him to the chemical supply house Eimer and Amend to purchase chemicals to augment the usual ones found in his regular chemistry set. Fast forward five years and Jack is now a laboratory assistant for his chemistry teacher at Stuyvesant High School.

In June 1944, he was awarded a B.A. in Chemistry from the Heights Campus of New York University but by that time he has already spent three months in basic training in the Army at Camp Croft, S.C. After serving in Europe as a Combat Infantryman with the 79th Infantry Division, he was discharged on Halloween, 1945. A blind date on New Year’s Eve brought Rose Lochansky into his life and they were married six months later. Then it was off to the University of Illinois-UC for graduate study. After receiving an M.S. (Chemistry) 1947 and a Ph.D. (Analytical Chemistry) 1950, there was an additional 18 months of post-doctoral training.

In 1952 Jack accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at what was soon to become Arizona State University. In addition to normal advancement through academic ranks, he also served as Executive Officer of the department for 14 years. He retired as Emeritus Professor, School of Molecular Sciences in 2007 after 55 and a half years on the faculty, establishing a record dating back to the founding of the school in 1885. Jack was also a member of ASURA. In 1956, he conceived and inaugurated a course geared toward the training of atomic spectroscopists. The “Modern Industrial Spectroscopy” program was offered annually each summer for 40 years and drew attendees from most of the states in the U.S. as well as every continent except Antarctica. In 1985, Jack served as National President of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.

No biography would be complete without mention of Jack’s parallel “career” as a musician which spanned six decades. He performed with many types of musical aggregations, both large and small, from jazz combos to symphony orchestras. He spent 27 years as Principal Timpanist with the Phoenix Symphony followed by 18 more years in the same capacity with the Symphony of the West Valley, providing him with the opportunity to share the stage with many notables ranging from the likes of jazz great Benny Goodman to conductor Arthur Fiedler. Perhaps his simultaneous listing for many years in American Men and Women of Science and in the International Who’s Who in Music sums up the life of Jack Fuchs, scientist/educator and musician.

Jack is survived by his daughter Tara (Alan) Roesler, Past President of ASURA, as well as a daughter-in law, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Jack was preceded in death by his wife, Rose, and a son.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, January 7, 2021 from 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm with funeral service at 1:00 pm at Green Acres Memorial Chapel, 401 N. Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ. The service will be live streamed at (Source: Arizona Republic) text
Sheldon Weiss Simon

Sheldon Weiss Simon

Chair, Political Science Department

Director, Center for Asian Studies

2 Jan 2021

Sheldon Weiss Simon, 83, passed away on January 2, 2021. Besides being at the top of his class academically, in high school he found that he loved performing in musical theater. By college age, he was not only striving for academic excellence at the University of Minnesota but also studying vocal performance and appearing in university musicals. Upon graduation, he began his master's degree at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies at Princeton University with the thought of entering the foreign service upon graduation. Instead, he accepted an offer from the University of Minnesota to return for doctoral studies in political science.

After spending a summer in Cripple Creek, Colorado, performing in Imperial Hotel's melodrama theater, he headed to Minneapolis and UofM to begin his PhD program in political science. He and Charlann Scheid, who had been cast opposite him in the melodrama, developed a serious relationship and commuted between the Twin Cities and Evanston, IL where she was in her senior year at Northwestern University. They were eventually engaged and were married in the ASU Chapel. Later he was invited to do his doctoral dissertation research at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sheldon decided he wanted to join the Kennedy administration, so he accepted a position with the CIA as a political analyst. He arrived in DC in August, 1963. After President Kennedy was assassinated that November, being a government employee didn't have the same draw for Sheldon. He was also teaching classes at GW in the evening and found he enjoyed that more. During the three years in DC, Sheldon was also active in musical theater.

He decided to transition to academia in the fall of 1966 and accepted a position in the political science department at the University of Kentucky. He began his active publishing career while teaching at UK. To him, research and teaching were of equal importance. While in Kentucky, he applied for and won a grant from the National Humanities Council to put on musical theater shows for rural Kentucky communities. He was active in theater and political science research his entire life.

In 1975, Sheldon accepted an offer from the ASU Political Science Department to become chairman of the department. He served his four years in this administrative role and decided he would never do anything like that again. Subsequently, he served as director of the Center for Asian Studies. He enjoyed teaching undergraduate lecture courses and nourishing graduate students who would become the next generation of political science professionals. Research and publication were always a driving force in his life, so it is not surprising that he has several scores of journal articles, book chapters, and many books listed on his vita. Sheldon retired in 2018 as Emeritus Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies. (Source: Arizona Republic)

 Santos C. Vega

Santos C. Vega

Professor Emeritus, Director, Community Documentation Program and Community Art and Research Organization in Hispanic Research Center

 2 Jan 2021

Santos C. Vega, age 89, passed away on January 2, 2021. Santos honorably served in the U.S. Air Force, 1950-54 and was a Veteran of the Korean Conflict. He earned a B.A. Ed., 1958 and a M. Ed., 1959 from the University of Arizona; Bachelor of Law, 1967, from Blackstone School of Law; Ph.D., 1975, in Education from ASU; and a M.A in Theology, 2004, from San Francisco University.

Santos was a lay Dominican of the Life-Professed Order of Preachers Laity (OPL), St. Mary Magdalene Chapter, Tempe, Arizona. He directed the Hispanic Ministry Program at St. Thomas Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado; Director of the Tercer Encuentro Process in Ecclesial Region XIII; was the Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Denver, Colorado; and was the Executive Director of Braun Sacred Heart Center.

Santos was a passionate educator. His career in education began at the Florence Elementary and Junior High Schools, Florence, Arizona. He promoted education to all ages; he supported the Florence Head Start program; taught General Education Development (GED) courses and conducted the GED test throughout AZ, including the Gila River Reservation, Sacaton, AZ. Santos taught courses and was involved in programs at Central Arizona College, Phoenix College, University of Arizona, and ASU. Among many subjects, he enjoyed teaching English, Mexican American History, and United States citizenship courses. He ended his career at ASU where he served as a Director for the Community Documentation Program (CDP) and Community Art and Research Organization (CARO) in the Hispanic Research Center, and was a Professor Emeritus.

Santos received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from US President, Barrack Obama. This national recognition was due to his years of service including but not limited to: Vice Mayor of Florence, Arizona, President of Arizona Association of Chicanos for Higher Education, Board member of Aurora Public School District, committed member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and his participation on numerous Boards and Committees in both Colorado and Arizona. He also taught at the Arizona State Prison and volunteered as a firefighter.

Santos is survived by nine children, 23 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren and his wife, Josephine R. Vega. Santos was preceded in death by his wife, Edilia G. Vega, two brothers and two sisters.

A visitation will be held on Monday, January 19, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with a Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 6:00 PM, at Richardson Funeral Home, 2621 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona.  Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 10:00 AM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 2121 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona.  Interment, with full military honors, will follow on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Holy Hope Cemetery, Tucson, Arizona.  

In Lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to his church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2121 S. Rural Rd. Tempe, AZ 85282.  The funeral mass will also be live-streamed at: for those that cannot attend or don't feel comfortable attending. (Source: Arizona Republic)